A cataclysmic disaster of biblical proportions may have wiped out the ancient “city of sin” mentioned in the Christian Bible.
Located in modern-day Jordan Valley, in the Book of Genesis, it follows that the two notoriously sinful cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by “sulfur and fire” because of their wickedness. Now, a team of researchers with more than a decade of archaeological excavation work in the Holy Land say there may be some truth to the biblical story after all. Presenting their work at the annual meeting of the American Schools of Oriental Research, they say an airburst caused by a meteor explosion in the atmosphere instantly obliterated a civilization encompassing a 25-kilometer-wide (15.5 miles) region.
“We’re unearthing the largest Bronze Age site in the region, likely the site of biblical Sodom itself,” says the excavation team on its website.
Analyses of Tall el-Hamman, located just northeast of the Dead Sea, suggest the area was occupied continuously for 2,500 years before suddenly collapsing at the end of the Bronze Age. Radiocarbon dating shows mud-brick walls of almost every structure disappeared 3,700 years ago, leaving behind just their stone foundations. Outer layers of pottery also show signs of melting – Zircon crystals found in the coating would have been formed within 1 second at high temperatures possibly as hot as the surface of the Sun. If that isn’t apocalyptic enough for you, then picture the high-force winds responsible for creating tiny mineral grains raining down through the sky, which were also found on pottery throughout the site.
It gets worse. The “high heat explosion” not only wiped out “100 percent of the Middle Bronze Age cities and towns,” but also stripped agricultural soils from once-fertile fields as brine from the Dead Sea salts pushed over the land, rendering it useless for an estimated six centuries.
Ground surveys indicate more than 100 other small settlements in the area were also exposed to the disaster, killing the estimated 40,000 to 65,000 people that lived there.
Such an event has occurred in recent history. More than a century ago, a blast near the Stony Tunguska River in Siberia flattened 2,000 square kilometers (772 square miles). A lack of crater found here suggests a meteor exploded between 5 and 10 kilometers (3-6 miles) above the land. A similar explosion in 2013 occurred over Chelyabinsk Russia, injuring more than 1,600 people mainly from glass that exploded from nearby windows.