Tag Archives: 2011 Society of Biblical Literature Congress

Archeologists find evidence of the obliteration of Sodom-Gomorrah

Since God created the world, and since science is all about studying the natural world, there is no intrinsic reason why science and religion, specifically Christianity, should be at loggerheads. Indeed, as science becomes more advanced, more and more it is confirming biblical accounts.

Several months ago, geologists found confirmation that, just as Matthew 27:50-52 recounted (“But Jesus cried out again in a loud voice, and gave up his spirit. And behold, the veil of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth quaked, rocks were split, tombs were opened….”), an earthquake did take place at or around the time of Jesus’ death on the cross. The geologists gave a precise date for His death: Friday, April 3, 33 A.D.

Now, a team of archeologists have discovered evidence of a catastrophic “heat event” that wiped out ancient Sodom and Gomorrah — just as the Old Testament had chronicled in Genesis 19:

17 And it came to pass, when they had brought them forth abroad, that he said, Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed.

24 Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven;

25 And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground.

John Bergsma writes for The Sacred Page, Dec. 7, 2011:

By far the most interesting session at the recent Society of Biblical Literature Congress in San Francisco was one I wandered into by chance.  I am always curious about what is going on in biblical archeology, so one afternoon I decided to … go hear about the excavations at a certain site called “Tall-el-Hammam.”

I had no idea what I was in for.

After about five minutes into the session, I realized that the archeological team assigned to this dig was convinced that they had found the biblical Sodom and Gomorrah. After another half-hour, it seemed they had most of the participants convinced as well. The sites fit the geographical and temporal context into which Sodom and Gomorrah are placed in the biblical texts. The cities at the site were suddenly and completely wiped out in the Late Bronze Age, which makes a reasonably good fit with the biblical accounts of Abraham and Lot.

The entire presentation was very convincing, but never once did they deal with the “elephant in the room”: what caused the sites to be suddenly abandoned?  As soon as the session was over, I was the first to raise my hand. “Did you find any arrow heads?  Signs of invasion? What happened to them?”

The lead archeologist paused for a moment. “I didn’t want to go there,” he said. Another pause. “I’m preparing material for publication.” Pause. “All I want to say ‘on camera’ is, they appear to have been wiped out in a ‘heat event’.”

A “heat event”!?  What?!

“If you want to know more, I’ll talk after the session off the record.”

I wish I could divulge what he said to a small group of us clustered around the podium after the session was over, but it would break confidence. We’ll have to wait for the official peer-reviewed publications.

Here’s a link to the dig’s main website: https://www.tallelhammam.com/

One of the archeologists, Dr. Steven Collins, was more forthcoming in a comment he wrote on Bergsma’s article. This is what Dr. Collins wrote:

“On our terminal MB2 event, what I can say is that multiple lines of evidence continue to confirm that not only massive Tall el-Hammam, but also its many satellite towns and villages on the eastern Kikkar, suffered some sort of fiery, civilization-ending cataclysm toward the end of the Middle Bronze Age, with the selfsame, well-watered-in-abundance area remaining devoid of settlements for the next 600 years or so […] The entirety of Tall el-Hammam’s MB2 footprint is covered in heavy ash (from .5m-1m thick), ash filled destruction debris, and other conflagratory indicators that will be published in appropriate venues. […] Is Tall el-Hammam biblical Sodom? Well, if it isn’t (and I say this with complete confidence in what I know to be the facts of the case), there are going to be a lot of people with a lot of ‘splainin’ to do, Lucy!”

In a comment responding to Dr. Collins, Bergsma asks a follow up question: “Is there any associated destruction layer at Jericho from this same time period?”

Dr. Collins’ answer:

“Yes, John, there is. The terminal MB destruction at Jericho seems to be of similar date (17th/16th century BCE). Still needs a lot of study. Our ceramic assemblage is very similar, perhaps identical. It seems reasonable that Hammam and Jericho, along with the rest of the towns in the Kikkar, went down together. Jericho was re-occupied by around 1400 for a brief period. The eastern Kikkar didn’t recover at all until about 1000 BCE when a few Iron 2 walled towns sprang up.”

A cataclysmic “civilization-ending” “conflagratory” (fiery) “heat event” that reduced Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes, making the area uninhabitable for 600 years. That’s no ordinary fire. Not even a volcanic eruption would do that.

As an example, the ecology of Mount St. Helens in Washington state quickly recovered after the devastating eruptions of May 18, 1980. One account chronicles:

[W]ithin weeks, an exotic mammal started meandering through the devastation…. A few burrowing animals survived in zones of complete devastation. Volcanic ash is sterile and lifeless, but in parts of the blast area … [Virginia Dale, an ecologist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, says,] ‘Pocket gophers came up through the ash, and because of their habits, succeeded in mixing the soil with the ash layer, and with seeds and parts of plants.’ In areas with less than, say, 25 centimeters of ash, gophers ‘were really important to the recovery.’ Credit the gophers for mixing essential fungi that help plant roots to absorb soil nutrients. … Overall, Dale says, the recovery has been ‘highly variable but rapid in some disturbance types,’ and quite different from what ecologists would have predicted.

The archeological evidence of what happened to Sodom and Gomorrah is sobering….


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