Tag Archives: Antakya

Earthquakes in Turkey and the formation of the Jordan Valley

For the past week we have been witnessing the devastation and destruction of the two major earthquakes that hit southeastern Turkey. Like many of you, the people of that region have been much in our prayers. The pictures of collapsed and partially collapsed buildings, and a stream of statistics, tell of the tremendous loss of life due to this event—and now in the aftermath the grief and suffering of the survivors.

In the description of earthquake, geologists say that it was the movements of the Anatolian and Arabian Plates that caused all of this devastation. They have called this event a “slip strike displacement” of the plates. This caught my attention for I remember reading in Denis Baly’ classic, The Geography of the Bible, that some experts believe that, in part, this was how a portion of the Great Rift Valley was formed—that is, Cisjordan and Transjordan have moved past each other (basically north-south) some 67 miles! (Baly, p. 23). That is, if you would shift Transjordan south about 67 miles, some of its faulting and rock formations would match their counterparts in the Judean Hill Country.

Coming back to Turkey, I wondered what a “slip-strike tectonic movement” might look like on the ground. I recently came across the photos of OzdemirAlpay @geodesist_a of a road in the Turkish village of Hasss, which is located about 45 mi. north northeast of Antakya, that caught my attention and I thought I would share them on this blog.

In this seemingly serene setting, notice how the road has been displaced about 6-8 feet in a horizontal direction! A slip-strike fault.

This is the same area, but notice the “crack” in the ground! Is this (near) where the two plates meet? It seems so pastoral, but we know how powerful the forces of this movement were!!

Notice the horizontal displacement of the “center line” of the road! A slip-strike fisure.

We continue to pray for the people of Turkey!

Baly, Denis. The Geography of the Bible. New and revised ed. New York: Harper & Row, 1974.


An Unusual New Year Ritual In Antioch on the Orontes (Antakya)

For a number of years our Bethel University groups have flown from Istanbul to Antiochia on the Orontes (also called Syrian Antioch and Hatay) as we began our 26 days of travels in Turkey and Greece—following In the Footsteps of the Apostles.


View looking south southwest over a portion of the modern city of Antakya—ancient “Antioch on the Orontes.”

It was from Antioch that followers of Jesus were first called “Christians” (Acts 11:19–26) and from here famine relief was sent to Jerusalem (Acts 11:27–30).  Paul began all three of his missionary journeys from Antioch (Acts 13; 15:35–41; 18:22–23).  It was the capital of the Roman Province of Syria in NT times.

We have often arrived at Antakya just after January 1st.

BusBlood01The first time we were in Antiakya with a student group I got up early to go for a short walk near our hotel.  As I left the hotel I walked by our bus and noticed that there was blood on the front and back bumpers as well as on the wheel hub caps!  We had driven from the airport to the hotel in the dark, but I could not remember that we had hit anything!

What I later found out is that the hotel administration—at the arrival of the first group in the new year—would slaughter (sacrifice?) a sheep or goat and distribute the meat to the hotel staff to encourage good fortune (luck) in the coming year!!  Mystery solved!!!