Everyone knows the biblical tale of Sodom and Gomorrah. In his righteous anger caused by their depravity, Yahweh destroyed the cities utterly. No one was spared — well, no one but Lot, his wife (who didn’t last long), and their two darling daughters.
You may be surprised to learn that there’s scientific evidence for a disaster in that area. We found this at PhysOrg: A meteor may have exploded in the air 3,700 years ago, obliterating communities near the Dead Sea. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:
A meteor that exploded in the air near the Dead Sea 3,700 years ago may have wiped out communities, killed tens of thousands of people, and provided the kernel of truth to an old Bible story. The area is in modern-day Jordan, in a 25 km wide circular plain called Middle Ghor. Most of the evidence for this event comes from archaeological evidence excavated at the Bronze Age city of Tall el-Hammam located in that area, which some scholars say is the city of Sodom from the Bible.
Archaeologists have been digging at the Tall el-Hamman site for 13 years, and have unearthed some pretty convincing evidence supporting the air-burst idea. The findings were presented on November 15th at the annual meeting of the American Schools of Oriental Research, by archaeologist Phillip Silvia of Trinity Southwest University. They were also published in a paper by Silvia and co-author and archaeologist Steven Collins called “The Civilization-Ending 3.7KYrBP Event: Archaeological Data, Sample Analyses, and Biblical Implications”.
Here’s the paper. You can read it on-line without a subscription. PhysOrg says:
Evidence gathered at the Tall el-Hammam site tells the story of the event. When the meteor air-burst occurred, there was an intensely hot and powerful shock wave. The shock wave wiped out all settlements in the area and destroyed an area of 500 sq. km. And the area remained uninhabited for a remarkable 700 years after the event. Several lines of evidence support the likelihood of this event.
After skipping a few paragraphs, PhysOrg tells us:
The two scientists say that the massive shockwave and heat wave not only destroyed the settlements, but the shock wave deposited a layer of salts onto the top soil, destroying it and making it unable to support agriculture for hundreds of years. It only takes a salt content of 12,800 ppm to prevent wheat from germinating, and a salt content of 17,900 ppm to prevent barley from growing. Those thresholds were easily exceeded.
There is other evidence that supports the air burst theory behind Tall el-Hammam. Meteor air burst sites like Chelyabinsk and Tunguska have the same signatures of meteor air burst that Tall el-Hammam has. These include high levels of platinum, a high incidence of magnetic spherules, and also a high incidence of what are known as scoria-like objects (SLOs). The researchers concluded that an airburst with a yield equivalent to a 10 mt nuclear warhead occurred about 1 km above northeast corner of the Dead Sea. They say this adequately explains all of the evidence gathered at Tall el-Hammam.
Then they quote the bible — something we haven’t seen before at PhysOrg, but the published paper has the same quote:
“Then the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah — from the Lord out of the heavens. 25 Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, destroying all those living in the cities — and also the vegetation in the land.” – Genesis 19:24-25
Amazing, huh? Let’s read on:
Some scholars think that Tall el-Hamman is the city of Sodom from the Bible. That idea has been around for a long time. It’s in the right place, and a meteor air burst would certainly explain the Genesis quote. It’s interesting that the Genesis quote mentions sulfur specifically, since a layer of sulfates and salt was deposited on the area by the event, destroying “the vegetation in the land.” But not all agree. Some scholars think that the geography is not correct. Others think the timeline is wrong. But with this new study, both sides will have to reconsider the whole issue.
At the end, things get back on track:
The Bible is interesting from a historical perspective, because it sometimes interweaves actual events from history with the Christian mythology. Now that it seems reasonable that a meteor airburst did destroy the area that may have contained Sodom, we can lay to rest the idea that the Christian God sent down fireballs to punish homosexuality. It looks like once again, it was a perfectly natural event that led to an apocalyptic, mythological story, and that what people once attributed to Gods and Goddesses is just nature.
Creationists will disagree, of course. For them, this latest research confirms that scripture is The Truth™. What do you think, dear reader?
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