S4.10: Earthquakes, Crisis management and Public health in Crete during the 19th century


Kostis Kanakis

Department of History and Archaeology, University of Crete / Hellenic Foundation for Research and Innovation, Greece, Museum of Medicine of Crete, University of Crete, Greece

The island of Crete, located on the edge of the Aegean Sea Plate and the African Plate and in close proximity to the South Aegean Volcanic Arc, through the ages experienced heavy earthquake activity. We can even argue that earthquakes and volcanic eruptions determined Crete’s history. The 19th century is not an exception.According to historical sources, during the 19th century Crete was struck hard by earthquakes. Historical sources bring to light that earthquakes hit the island on thirty-six (36) different years of the century. Indeed, the earthquakes of six (6) years (1805, 1810, 1815, 1846, 1856, and 1887) caused serious damages and for example, 1856’s earthquake was responsible for the almost total raze of the city of Heraklion. This session will focus on Crete’s major earthquakes of the century using a variety of published and unpublished historical documents, like Ottoman and Greek archives,European travelogues, newspapers, telegrams, mail correspondence and photographs. The aim of the session is to present these earthquakes, the locations that were mostly afflicted by them and the damages they caused. Also, the session will present the different earthquakes’ disaster management strategies that the different administrations (Egyptian, Ottoman, and Semi-autonomous Cretan) of the island followed and the various responses of the Cretan society to these disasters. Finally, the session will attempt to highlight the consequences that these earthquakes, and the aftermath crises they caused, had to the public health of the island.

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