“And the Lord rained down sulfur upon Sodom and Gomorrah, fire from the Lord out of heaven. He overthrew those cities and the whole plain, together with the inhabitants of the cities and the produce of the soil” (Gen. 19:24-25).
Faithful Christians always believed in the Genesis narrative of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. But recent discoveries at the archeological site Tall el-Hamman, in Jordan appear to offer intriguing evidence that coincides with and supports the Biblical account.
Since 2005 several archeological institutions have formed the Tall el-Hammam Excavation Project (TeHEP). The group includes Trinity Southwest University’s College of Archeology and Biblical History (Albuquerque, N.M.), Veritas International University’s College of Archeology and Biblical History (Santa Ana, Calif.), and the Department of Antiquities of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
The team of scientists published their findings in Nature Scientific Reports.
What’s Left of the Ancient City?
The TeHEP group concentrated their studies on the place where the city of Tall el-Hammam once stood, northeast of the Dead Sea. The location itself is not impressive because most of the city’s remains lay underground, covered by centuries of sediment. However, by analyzing the site, the team could put together the story of what happened 3,600 years ago.
Before its destruction, Tall el-Hammam had a population of about 8,000 people. It was one of the three most densely populated cities in the Jordan Valley that boasted a population of 50,000. After the city’s annihilation, the valley was abandoned for approximately 600 years due to its uninhabitable conditions.
How the Destruction Took Place
Research suggests that a small asteroid destroyed Tall el-Hammam. The asteroid would have plummeted toward the earth at about 38,000 mph, exploding 2.5 miles above the ground and scattering flaming rocks across the entire city.
The report estimates the explosion was 1,000 times more powerful than the Hiroshima atomic bomb, and the blast would have instantly blinded those who saw it. Within moments, the city’s temperature rose to about 3,600 degrees Fahrenheit, instantly burning inhabitants, wood, and cloth and melting objects such as weapons, bricks, and pottery.
Thus, everything in the city either melted or went up in flames. Soon after the blast, a powerful shockwave, moving at about 740 mph, rushed through the city, destroying everything in its path.
The catastrophic event leveled the entire city, instantly killing its 8,000 inhabitants and every other living creature. The study concluded that the neighboring town of Jericho, 14 miles away, was also severely damaged by the asteroid’s impact.
No other naturally occurring event, such as volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, fires, or tornadoes could account for the destruction. Only an asteroid or meteor could produce the heat that caused the melting at the site. Researchers also ruled out human warfare as a cause because the destruction of Tall el-Hammam was on par with a firestorm.
Although the archeological team does not affirm that Tall el-Hammam is the exact location of Sodom and Gomorrah, its observations give the hypothesis credibility. The scientists acknowledge that the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, as written in Genesis, is consistent with the description of a cosmic airburst like the one recorded at Tall el-Hammam. Therefore, it is reasonable to believe that Tall el-Hammam could be the location where Sodom and Gomorrah once stood.
The Stamp of God’s Justice
The effects of this event are truly shocking. The TeHEP found shards of pottery melted into glass, “bubbled” mudbricks, and other melted building material, indicating extreme heat.
Scientists also found:
- Deformed and fragmented human skeletal remains.
- “Shocked quartz” at the excavated layer of that time period. It takes 725,000 pounds of pressure per square inch to form this “shocked” version of the mineral.
- Diamondoids at the destruction site that can only form under intense heat and pressure.
The American Society of Overseas Research featured this summary:
“…in an instant, [the act of God] devastated approximately 500 km2 immediately north of the Dead Sea, not only wiping out 100% of the Middle Bronze Age cities and towns, but also stripping agricultural soils from once-fertile fields and covering the eastern Middle Ghor with a super-heated brine of Dead Sea anhydride salts pushed over the landscape by the Event’s frontal shockwaves.”
Will God Punish the World Anew?
Scientific research has uncovered clues about the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah that support the Genesis story. The Old Testament is full of examples where God chastises his people for their iniquities. It has long been held that God chastised the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, particularly for the sin of homosexuality, which, according to Catholic teaching, “cries out to heaven for vengeance.”
Although the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah took place over three thousand years ago, signs of God’s justice remain etched into the earth as a sign of His omnipotence. If God punished the sins of men in those times, how much more so do today’s sins clamor for justice as they constantly offend God.
Indeed, never in history has there been more sin, sacrilege, and blasphemy. The evidence of destruction found near the Dead Sea should be an occasion for people to reflect upon their iniquities and repent. It begs the question: Does the moral depravity today not “cry out to Heaven” for a new chastisement?