The lost islands of Tripoli

When I first saw this map back in 2021, I thought it was exaggerating the size of the Islands near the coast of Tripoli. I saved it and I never checked it back until I heard over the news that Rabbits Islands are remnants of much larger Islands that used to exist facing Tripoli before a devastating earthquake and a resulting Tsunami hit our region back in 1202.

The County of Tripoli was a Crusader state when the 1202 earthquake struck on the Yammouneh fault line. It caused a large Tsunami and destroyed the coastal cities of today’s Lebanon and Syria. It was felt over a very wide area, from Sicily to Mesopotamia and Anatolia to upper Egypt. A magnitude of 7.6 Mw has been estimated with damage up to XI on the Mercalli intensity scale.

Tripoli and the large islands before the 1202 earthquake by Jean-Baptiste Bourguignon d’Anville

As a result, the inhabited large islands that used to exist disappeared into the sea and only few, much smaller ones remain. If we take a closer look at the older map, we can clearly see that one of them had a church dedicated to St Nicolas on it while the smallest was called “Isle des Pendus” (they probably used to hang people there?).

1816 Map of Tripoli and the islands by Joseph Roux

Let’s take a moment to appreciate what we still have!

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