Where Is Sodom?

Genesis 13, archaeology and Biblical geography provide new answers

In the article “Where Is Sodom?”, archaeologist Steven Collins, using clues from the Biblical geography of Genesis 13 together with archaeological evidence from the site of Tall el-Hammam (pictured), argues that Biblical tradition located Sodom in a fertile area northeast of the Dead Sea.

According to the Bible, “the men of Sodom were wicked” (Genesis 13, verse 13). For its many sins, God destroyed Sodom and all the inhabitants of the “cities of the plain” in an intense conflagration, but not before allowing Abraham’s nephew Lot and his family to flee to safety.

The stories of Sodom and its destruction, whether historical or not, were clearly understood to have occurred near the Dead Sea, among the so-called “cities of the plain” mentioned in Genesis 13, verse 12. But where exactly was this plain, and was a particular site associated with Sodom? In the article Where Is Sodom? in the March/April 2013 issue of BAR, archaeologist Steven Collins combines clues from Biblical geography with archaeological evidence from the site of Tall el-Hammam in Jordan to suggest that the author of Genesis 13 located Sodom in a fertile area northeast of the Dead Sea.

So where is Sodom, according to the Biblical geography of Genesis 13? Sodom and its sister cities are located in the large oval-shaped, fertile plain just north of the Dead Sea called simply ha-kikkar, or “the Disk” (Genesis 13, verse 13). In Biblical geography, this well-watered disk-shaped plain, said to have been located east of the highland towns of Bethel and Ai, was an area “like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt” where Lot moved his family after his quarrel with Abraham (Genesis 13, verse 10). It is also the place where the Biblical writers set their dramatic tale of Sodom’s wickedness and destruction (Genesis 19).
 


 
In the new BAS DVD Discovering Genesis and the Origins of the Biblical World, the late Dr. David Neiman expertly guides you through the book’s first 11 chapters, examining how the Biblical writers grappled with the fundamental questions and mysteries of the shared human experience.
 

 
Seeking to answer the question “Where is Sodom?” and using the Biblical geography of Genesis 13 as a guide, Collins decided to excavate Tall el-Hammam, an extensive and heavily fortified site located in modern Jordan at the eastern edge of the kikkar. First inhabited during the Chalcolithic period (4600–3600 B.C.E.), the site attained its maximum size during the Middle Bronze Age (c. 2000–1600 B.C.E.) and became one of the largest cities in Canaan. But unlike other Canaanite cities that continued to flourish in the Late Bronze Age (1550-1200 B.C.E.), Tall el-Hammam was destroyed by fire at the end of the Middle Bronze Age and remained uninhabited for centuries.

Across Tall el-Hammam, archaeologists found widespread evidence of an intense conflagration that left the Middle Bronze Age city in ruins. They found scorched foundations and floors buried under nearly 3 feet of dark grey ash, as well as dozens of pottery sherds covered with a frothy, “melted” surface; the glassy appearance indicates that they were briefly exposed to temperatures well in excess of 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, the approximate heat of volcanic magma. Such evidence suggests the city and its environs were catastrophically destroyed in a sudden and extreme conflagration.

Was it this event—which destroyed Hammam and the other cities of the kikkar—that was remembered by the Biblical writers in their telling of the story of Sodom?

 


 

BAS Library Members, read more in Steven Collins, Where Is Sodom? Biblical Archaeology Review, March/April 2013.

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  1. Seer says

    NOw tell us about the source of the fir. I read somewhere that it is connected to a meteorite crash.

  2. Brian says

    Wow. “Whether historical or not” what kind of comment is that? I guess some at Biblical Archaelogy think the Bible is made up?

  3. DENNIS says

    If you assume the Bible is a “Truth” to start with, your investigations will move along quite nicely. Otherwise, you must make up an increasing amount of “facts” as you go.

  4. steve says

    I am more surprized at these comments than I am by the FACT that God is allowing modern day science to prove what the bible said was true thousands of years ago. Many more events discribed in the bible will be proven in the years to come as the second coming of Christ approaches.
    …………………………………….
    If anyone could direct me where I could buy the book mentioned in the article above, I would appreciate it, as I can not buy anything through the internet. I live in Toronto Ontario Canada.

  5. Krissy says

    The myth of the destruction of Sodom has always been a fascinating one, since it is still being used as ammunition to persecute people today by those who would seek to twist sacred texts to fit their biases. Interesting read.

  6. steve says

    Krissy, I am curious, are you saying the you believe the story of Sodom is a myth.

  7. Carl says

    The article in BAR made me rethink where these events occurred, very good! The Book of Wisdom refers to “the fire that came down upon Pentapolis.” (Wisdom 10:6) Could the author find Gomorrah, and the other three cities of “Pentapolis”?

  8. Oun says

    Effect of fire. Well, what about salt – did they find anything relevant to salt in the Genesis narrative of Sodom?

  9. Krissy says

    @Steve – Most certainly a myth, yes.

  10. I says

    Google BIBLE ARCHEOLOGY-The Physical remains of Sodom and Gomorrah :) I heard nothing here about the lumps of sulphur on the site?

  11. Matt says

    Wow! “Wether historical or not”. Wonder if those caught in a 2000+ degree conflagration would doubt its historicity?

  12. Neville says

    Might be interesting to include the Sumerian text in this. Abram recognized the 3 visitors as gods. Sumerian texts indicate that the people of that area were worshiping Marduk son of the God Enki. The three gods were the sons of Enlil/YHWH they launched nuclear weapons at the cities. Well over 2000 degrees. What happened to Melchizedek, a king/priest of God there. Why is the water in the ridge area still radioactive, THE GODS(NOT) had and used weapons of mass destruction as they fought each other. Superior technology yes, Gods??????

  13. Neville says

    Consider these verses from the ancient Mahabharata: …a single projectile charged with all the power of the Universe. An incandescent column of smoke and flame As bright as the thousand suns Rose in all its splendour… a perpendicular explosion with its billowing smoke clouds… …the cloud of smoke rising after its first explosion formed into expanding round circles like the opening of giant parasols… ..it was an unknown weapon, an iron thunderbolt, a gigantic messenger of death, which reduced to ashes The entire race of the Vrishnis and the Andhakas. …The corpses were so burned as to be unrecognizable. The hair and nails fell out; Pottery broke without apparent cause, And the birds turned white. After a few hours All foodstuffs were infected… …to escape from this fire, the soldiers threw themselves in streams to wash themselves and their equipment. To no avail. whole armies destroyed and cities. thousands of years before our Jesus.

  14. Gary says

    @Krissy- what are your supported sources and references to disprove the text of Sodom and Gomorrah? Also, how is this text used to persecute people today? Lastly, you mention sacred texts so does this mean that you believe in a God?

  15. Krissy says

    @Gary – What an interesting use of logic you are using! Now, I may be mistaken, but it sounds like you are saying that we would have to disprove every possible hypothesis presented otherwise it MUST be true. I’m sure you’re not saying that. Otherwise we would assume that Osiris really was a literal pharaoh of Egypt who was killed by Set, had his body dismembered, then reassembled by his sister Isis who then copulated with him and gave birth to their son Horus. Since we can’t prove these things didn’t happen, they must be true. Such a clever use of logic. It’s exactly the opposite of what logic would dictate. What a rebel you are! The text is used persecute people even today by those who would strangely interpret it to refer in some way as having anything to do with LGBT people in an attempt to shame others and as an excuse to discriminate against others and deny people basic civil rights. I’m not sure what you are asking with your last question, however. What do sacred texts and believing in “a God” have to do with each other? Texts can be sacred whether someone believes or doesn’t believe in a particular deity. You are full of so many interesting ideas!

  16. Gary says

    @Krissy- By no means was my intent to lead, I am interested in your stance. This website utilizes biblical, ancient texts, and archaeological data to present its case for various subject matter. I wanted to understand how you have formulated your stance as Sodom as a myth. I don’t disagree that some utilize this text as solely against LGBT, but all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. This message is to understand God’s warnings and His wrath.
    Lastly, the definition of sacred from Websters is set apart for the service or worship of a deity. This was the reason for my question. In short, what do you believe in? I’m interested not antagonistic.
    Sincerely
    Gary

  17. Fifth says

    Was not that city built on trading in salt. I wonder if the salt came from the sea or was a salt mine, If the salt on land was something like saltpeter then it would have been dangerous thing to have laying around. Let us say that it was a dalt mine that when most of the salt was mine the mine shafts became rubbish dumps. Over a time all that carbon waste material could in theory start to burn and what salt was still in the mine burn also. If the town was built over the mine shafts and the exploded then the city above could have been torn to bits.
    To explain the event it must have been the act of God.
    Makes a nice story to frighten the children does it not.

  18. Krissy says

    @Gary – This website utilizes ancient texts, the Biblical texts, and archaeological data to present its case, but it seldom makes theological assertions of the kind you are asking for. Sure, we may be able to use those tools listed to say that a city named Sodom existed, that it might have been destroyed in some manner, etc. However, it is beyond the scope of this magazine or any scholar to prove (or disprove) the factuality of the Biblical story of Yahweh literally intervening in history to destroy 2 cities, or that the story of Lot is literally true, etc. All we know, is that the story survived in some written form. That written form is the Biblical text. The story itself, the narrative, sits outside of factual proof or disproof. If you choose to believe the story is literal history, great. But you are choosing to do so as a point of doctrine, not as a point of evidence or non-evidence. Again, asking to prove that the story isn’t true is as silly asking someone to prove that ANY myth isn’t true. The Greek myths took place in real locations too. When you can prove to me that Zues, Dionysos and the other Greek gods really didn’t intervene in human history, then we can have a conversation about proving that the myth of Sodom isn’t actually a myth. You are correct that the definition of sacred means set apart for service or worship of a deity. Again, that does not imply belief. That definition speaks about function. There are many texts outside of the Biblical texts that fit this definition. My acknowledgement of the Bible as a sacred text has nothing to do with whether I believe a certain deity exists or not. I’m not sure what the relevance is. Oh, and I would agree that the message of the myth is to understand God’s warnings and His wrath.

  19. Arlan says

    The article stated that Tall el-Hammam was destroyed at the end of the Middle Bronze Age which ran from 2300BC down to 1550BC so the end of the Middle Bronze age is around 1600BC when it was burned down. According to most bibical archaeologist Abraham/Lot died about 1850BC which is about 205 years beforeTell el-Hammam burned down.
    Tell el-Hammam is in the wrong place according to Gen 13:10 “Lot lifted up his eyes …..towards the Jordon Valley….. in the direction of ZORE…” So Sodom has to be SOUTH of the Dead Sea, not north of it, down by ZORE. There are 5 cities from the south end of the wet and salty Dead Sea down to ZORE. Bab edh-Dhra, Numerira, Admah, Zeboiim and Bela or Zore.

  20. Emerson says

    Can we PLEASE get over use of the initials BCE? This is increasingly going out of favor, especially when talking about historical context, not to mention Biblical context. The correct useage is BC, like it or not. You can’t talk about history and then ignore a large part (New Testament) of it. It’s not as though BCE was something that was used before Christ’s time. Changing it to Common Era instead of Christ as a linear time measurement is simply trying to fool yourself.

  21. nysparkie says

    Gods hand can send his fury in many shapes and forms…Volcano, Meteor. Whatever. I suppose he could have sent his Angels with swords of fire if he wanted. It was all about the unrepentant sin. Now there is no Sodom….

  22. Randy says

    Enough of the BCE stuff. It has always been BC – Before Christ. and CE is AD – Anno Domini.
    Can’t believe Bible believers are buying into this politically correct intellectual nonsense.

  23. Rick says

    I was under the impression that the Dead Sea is a memorial to Sodom and Gomorrah.

  24. Arlan says

    @ Gary ~ All the archaeological evidence, towns destroyed by fire such as Tall el-Hammam [1600BC] north of Dead Sea and Bab edh-Dhra and Numerira [2350BC] south of the Dead Sea proves that they had nothing to do with Abraham/Lot’s story because the time frame does not match when they were living which was about 2000 -1850BC. Any way you look at the story of Sodom there is no evidence that any of these cities had any involvement with Abraham/Lot time period.
    Also in Gen 14 the bible sites 4 kings that raided the southern parts of the Dead Sea, which are Amraphel, Arioch, Ellasar and Chedorlaomer. So far none of these 4 kings has been mentioned in any written documents.
    It’s like trying to find the date when the world had a big biblical flood or creation. According to Adventism the church is stuck with what Ellen White has stated over 80 times that creation was in 4004BC and the flood in about 2345BC. But just looking at the evidence around the Dead Sea people had been living there from about 3200BC down to about 2350BC when the tows were destroyed by fire. If the worldwide flood had happened in 2345BC that was 5 years after the cities were burned to the ground and any evidence of that happeneing would have all been washed away but it wasnot washed away. Why? because the biblical flood never happened just like the Sodom/Abraham/Lot story never happened and the 400 years in Egypt never happened.

  25. Arlan says

    @ Emerson ~ Why are you making so much out of the use of BCE. Much of Archaeology uses it and BC is going out of favor. You sound like a little kid. What u need to do is look @ it in a positive light when u see BCE think “Before Christ Existed”, and CE think “Christ Exist” and everyone is happy.

  26. brian says

    Arlan – Christ always existed. See John 1:2

  27. Bryan says

    i am just AMAZED what the bible speaks of in the last days and Satan’s deception through history…ezekeil 38-39 is on the horizon as russia is linked with the Iran and syria ….and on top of that the article i read yesterday speaks LOUD AND CLEAR about revelation 13 about you won’t be able to buy sell or trade without the mark of the beast on your forehead or hand how congress is trying to pass a global I.D. card and won’t be able to get a job or buy or sell and trade without it, which will lead to the mark considering the soon collapse of our economy and the euro zone ecomonic issues and the N.W.O gainning ground speaks loudly to me…..I Had thoughts of killing myself and people so bad i had to hide knifes i tried psychiatrist all sort of different helps and NOTHING HELPED NOTHING! it got so bad only time the thoughts would leave me ( which where constantly by the way) was when i closed my eyes sleep at night. Then my mother shared Christ with me and i went forward and excepted Jesus into my heart and life and was baptized and the thoughts went away overnight so you tell me God doesn’t exist…NOTHING ELSE WORKED!! NOTHING i tried it all myself everything….So remember God loves you died for you and if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart God raised him from the dead you will be saved!!

  28. Krzysztof says

    To remind: The Bible (Torah, Pentateuch) uses a Great Year of 4000 years (our) counting: 0- “Adam” to 163 B.C. (the restoration of TEmple in Maccabi Book) (Thomas L.Thompson, The Bible in history, 1999); all the numbers are …fiction according to our type of counting. I hope you now the basic math.
    Of course, the Bible is true: the wickedness will be destroyed, therefore, Jesus from Nazareth is Lord and not Cesar!

  29. redeemer says

    Steve, check your local bible book stores if not there, they should be able to direct you. Also to all who do not believe the bible you ate in for a huge awaking when you stand before our Lord God. Every knee shall bow & every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord!

  30. Marilyn says

    I think Sodom, Gomorrah and the cities of the plains were destroyed by an asteroid impact. It cracked the Earth and formed the Great Rift Valley from Syria to Lake Nyasa in Africa. It punched down the bedrock under the Dead Sea, making it the lowest place on Earth.

  31. Paul says

    I think Bryan hit the nail on the head in reference to the “mark of the beast” (Revelation 13:16,17). Already we have “cookies” to monitor our internet browsing habits that alerts someone if we like cookies. Imagine a device implanted on your person that transmits all of your transactions to a database, which in turn reveals your tastes to marketers who will have a handle on you. The Babylonian Talmud Tractate Sanhedrin 109 interprates the verse from Genesis 13:13; “Now the inhabitants of Sodom were very wicked sinners against the Lord.” They were wicked in the way they spent their money and they were sinners in the way they used their bodies.They discouraged strangers from traveling through their land by punishing people who offered hospitality. Lot invites the two angels into his home and feeds them (Genesis 19:1-3), thereby depriving the Sodomites of their intended victims which the Sodomites prefered hungry and exhausted.
    There are parallels between the Genesis narrative and the Canaanite “Tale of Aquat”, which begins with a character mentioned in Ezekiel 14:14; Daniel (not the same as the one in the book of Daniel). Like Abraham who was visited while sitting at the entrance of the tent by the terebinths of Mamre (Genesis 18:1), Daniel was visited while sitting before the gate beneath a mighty tree on the threshing floor. Daniel’s wife prepares a meal for the visitor as does Abraham’s wife. Daniel had been acting as a judge as was the custom to settle civil dispues at the city gate; “Judging the cause of the widow, adjudicating the case of the fatherless.” We find Lot also sitting at the gate of Sodom when he greeted the visitors. These angels, however, were not naive like most victims who fell prey to the Sodomites. The Canaanite deity who visited Daniel was called Kothar wa-Khasis (Skillful and Clever).
    On page 38 of the current issue of BAR we see a reconstruction if the city gate at Tel el-Hammam. The city was surrounded with high walls and towers and one can imagine how liitle breeze there would be since this site was located on the lowest elevation on earth. The inhabitants, under the control of the wealthy elite who prioritized sexual gratification to the detriment of the rule of law, were forced to smell the odor of emissios that lingered in the stale air. A constant reminder of their sin like the foam on the waves of the sea, always casting up their shame (Jude 1:13).
    According to the article, a fiery conflagaration put and end to this city around 1600 BCE which is roughly the same time the armies of Hittite king Mursilis marched down the Euphrates and sacked Babylon.
    Ha!
    Those who write out evil writs
    And compose iniquitous documents,
    To subvert the cause of the poor,
    To rob of their rights the needy of my people;
    That widows may be their spoil,
    And fatherless children their booty!
    Isaiah 10:1,2

  32. Caroline says

    There is another geographical explanation that would have occurred at about the correct timeframe c 1680 BCE and would explain the 3-foot layer of ash as well as the vitrification of pottery etc by a heat blast. That is the eruption of the Thera volcano on the island of what is now known as Santorini. A heat blast blown due east would strike the plain on which Sodom and Gomorrah were located. This eruption was probably also the origin of the myths of “Typhon” and “Atlantis”

  33. Caroline says

    Oops I meant a geological explanation!

  34. Jim says

    If Oun’s comment about ‘salt’ refers to the turning of Lot’s wife into a pillar of the stuff, look at the Hebrew word used – ‘masha’. Apart from ‘salt’ it can also mean ‘pulverized powder’, not difficult to believe for searing temps >2000°F.

  35. Jim says

    Sorry, Caroline, but the two events are located too far apart for Thera’s ash to have dumped on Sodom, and besides volcanic ash cools fast as it expands in the stratosphere. As far as I’m told, the ash is purely from things burning as described in Genesis 19: 24, 25 – it doesn’t have the chemical signature of the nearest known sources of possible volcanic activity, the Harrat Ash Shaam on the Syrian border or Jordan’s Mt. Nebo, where Moses was shown the Promised Land before passing away.

  36. Brian says

    Krissy,
    Your unbelief locks you out of truly understanding the Bible. Very similar to a message I heard yesterday about Nicodemus & Jesus. Nicodemus knew all about the Scriptures but he didn’t understand what the O.T. & Jesus was saying until he was born from above. Obviously, you have a pre-supposition that disbelieves the Scriptures before looking at them.

  37. Jim says

    Marylin, if it had been an asteroid it would have had to be a pretty small one, comparable to the Tunguska cometary fragment, for the affected region seems to have been the east side of the Jordan River Plain. If it had done all the things you said, do you think Abraham would still have been alive to see the devastation, standing as he was, between Ai and Bethel, a mere 5 mi from the edge of the Plain?

  38. Jerry says

    Did you ever consider the idea that before Gen. 19, there may have been no Dead Sea? When the Dead Sea was created, it replaced the River/Valley of Siddim? Gen. 19 describes a massive destruction that puts a crater in the earth. The book of Genesis is indeed the book of beginnings.

  39. Jim says

    Sorry, Jerry, it’s not what the Bible or the geologists say. Genesis 14: 4 identifies the Salt Sea (i.e. the Dead Sea) with the Valley of Siddim before God destroyed the Cities of the Plain [Genesis 19: 24, 25]: the sea occupied most of the valley as it does today. Besides if the Tall-el-Hammam excavations are Sodom, then from the lay-out of the skeletons, whatever phenomenon destroyed the city came in from the east. If it were an asteroid it would have had to do a right-angle turn to enter Siddim Valley – it’s not the way a flying rock travels. As far as I know, there haven’t been any craters found so far, and not all Earth-impactors cause craters, e.g. Tunguska was an airburst that levelled 800 sq mi of forest but left no crater.

  40. Jim says

    Arlan, are you actually interested in narratives associated with this dig? If yes, why not look fairly at the Biblical evidence? Genesis 13: 4 places Abram and Lot at an altar between Bethel and Ai, some 15 mi north-west of the Dead Sea, when they agree to go their separate ways. Verse 10 has Lot looking over the Plain of the Jordan River, i.e. the region immediately north of the Dead Sea – which the Bible claims was as fertile as the Garden of Eden because the Lord had not yet destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah – as far as Zoar. Sodom and Gomorrah were on the Jordan River Plain or why imply that their destruction would waste the Plain? And that extended to Zoar, which explains why Lot and his family had time to get from Sodom to Zoar between early dawn and just after sunrise [Genesis 19: 15, 23]. The confusion that seems to have arisen – having some archaeologists place Zoar at the south-end of the Dead Sea – is from references in Isaiah and Jeremiah over a thousand years later to another ‘Insignificant’ town of refuge in Moab. My experience is that place-names which are commonly descriptive are seldom unique – we’ve got two Torran Turachs (‘Towering Conical Hills’) on the island where I live.
    The dating is a different matter: Steven Collins claims that he has triple-dated his finds, but considering that (a) radiocarbon dating procedures were still being ‘calibrated’ as late as 2008 [Ramsey] and are very sensitive to ambient radiation conditions right along the time-line, (b) ceramics typology obviously depends locally on the social dynamics of distribution (at a guess, city-states in the back-of-beyond aren’t going to be great at off-loading fine pottery to their hinterlands), and (c) I can’t see there being much wood left to tree-ring date in a land where even the building foundations were consumed, it would take a fair amount to convince me that the archaeological dating was right on the button. I’ve looked at how the Bible dates the events in Abraham’s fairly well-travelled and eventful life and, even though you don’t see many men who live to 175 these days, the narrative is consistent. The attempt to conventionalise his days by assuming some attributed ‘demi-god’ length of years, sounds like flanneling to me. Convince me that all cosmic ray fluxes have been accounted for, that there is no natural radioactivity in the Jordan Valley – Siddim Valley regions, and that there was no nuclear component to God’s weapon (6 or 7 centuries might be about right for medium half-life isotopes to leach out of the soil), and I might be persuaded to risk doing my head in by taking ‘formulaic Hebrew life-numbers’ for the patriarchs seriously.
    Now, whether you’ve heard of the Elamite kings outside of the Scriptures is neither here nor there – everybody’s trawling for scraps of information in a nearly empty ‘trashcan’. Any narrative from these early eras needs to be considered as a potential witness unless it can be proved to be fictitious. Nobody had a clue that the Egyptians considered the Hittites to be a super-power in the 13th century BC from Rameses II’s depiction of the map-rewriting battle of Kadesh (who today had even heard of that?) until very recently, when lost libraries containing letters between these empires were recovered in Hattusa. Before that they were considered to be some mysterious race or tribe for which the only evidence, just about, was the Bible’s reference to King David’s general, Uriah, and the Genesis 14 history that you were trashing. Given the racial and linguistic mix in the Near East in the early 2nd millennium BC, it wouldn’t surprise me if there were umpteen names that each of these kings was known by… and how do you know these weren’t just honorifics? For example, unless you knew something about Roman Empire history you probably wouldn’t consider that Augustus (mentioned in the Bible) was just an honorific given to the Emperor Octavius by the Senate; or, in the Books of Daniel and Ezra, there’s references to Darius the Mede and Darius the Great – there is a strong suspicion that Darius is an ancient Achemenian honorific refering to a war leader of noble birth. We probably know a lot less than we think we do, and maybe even what we make out – so let’s not be trashing any ‘trash’ till we’re really sure it is just that, eh?

  41. Klea says

    I am just amazed the more I look into the age of the earth-I find more reasonable to believe that this is a very young Earth and that the theory that this evolved over millions of years is mis-information with an agenda.Whatever we all have an instinct to dig and uncover and discover-”There is nothing new under the sun” so we keep finding the answers one by one-even the age of the Earth.

  42. Bill says

    OK, let’s get something straight. From a purely geological perspective, no one can argue that there haven’t been earthquakes in this region. Also, if one looks at the water table history in the Dead Sea area, the lake has been up and down several times over the millennia.

    Therefore, it is not surprising that many cities could have disappeared under the rising level of water, only to appear again a few centuries later. I have no doubt we’ll find additional cities as the Israelis, Jordanians, Syrians and Palestinians continue to drain the Jordan for all it’s worth.

    Again, speaking from a purely geological point of view, plate tectonics explains the continental drift between the Asian and African shelves. A fault line runs right through the Dead Sea. Therefore, again, it isn’t surprising to find out that several cities may have fallen to earthquakes. Moreover, it’s not surprising to find out that the earthquakes were severe and that they could have wiped out an entire city the infrastructure of which wasn’t up to modern code.

    I have no doubt that two cities once existed by the names of Sodom and Gomorrah. I think there is evidence that they may be under a modern-day city now. Surely we’ve heard of tells. They’re all over that regions. The truth, however, is that they may have disappeared much later than our translations suggest.

    Until very recently, the majority of biblical archeologists were concerned with finding evidence to support the Bible. Now that objective is beginning to shift toward a more thoughtful exploration into what actually happened — whether it backs up a bible story or offers a better insight into the actual history of the region.

    Here’s what we have to understand about using science to back up the Bible. Science isn’t a tool to prove someone’s point of view. It often proves just the opposite of what we’d like to believe. If we’re going to accept radio-carbon dating for our bible manuscripts, and then turn around and reject it when it proves something wrong about the Bible’s account, we are deluding ourselves. Furthermore, radio-carbon dating isn’t the only method we use to date things back beyond let’s say 50,000 years.

    If you’re going to use science at all, you might as well confront your old fears of this system of discovery and open your mind to the complete truth — whether that backs up your faith or challenges it to the very foundation. Perhaps you’ll never quite look at things the same way again. I don’t know. Maybe you’ll decide to become an atheist in the end. That’s up to you, but if your faith has any merit at all, it will survive this and many other challenges. The dross will burn away in the refiner’s fire, and what you’ll have left is pure gold.

  43. Dave says

    My thanks to Steve Collins.
    I forgot there were 5 cities and not just Sodom and Gomorrah. It is amazing that evidence
    continues to come out that corroborates the historic accounts in the Bible. So many things
    were discovered in Science because someone saw that the prevailing theories of Science
    did not agree with the bible, so they kept looking for other answers.
    ‘Life comes from life’, versus ‘spontaneous generation’ in Pasteur’s day paved the way for
    civilization to stop epidemics by seeking out the pathogens that caused disease.
    Blacks are not any less than whites, versus, the race supremacy ideas that were the logical
    extension of Darwin’s theories and propped up beliefs in slavery. And many more.
    No one has to have blind faith, the evidence is there for the finding. But if one has his mind
    made up, no amount of evidence will convince them. Not even if a dead relative comes back
    from the dead – as Jesus’s words show in the Gospels.

  44. Brian says

    Studyinh genesis 18 and 19 know and doing reasearch.

  45. Beryl says

    @krissy and others:
    This page should not be a medium through which we attack one another but for individual to express his mind.
    Perspective at which we see things differ. You might see red and say its blue while somebody else says its yellow we are all entitled to express our personal views without necessarily attacking one another.
    Personally, i believe its not a myth but reality as the holy book (Bible) put it. A myth, according to the dictionary, is a commonly-held but false belief, a common misconception; a fictitious or imaginary person or thing; a popular conception about a real person or event which exaggerates or idealizes reality. Meaning that it is used to explain what is incomprehensible. It is used in Africa by the elderly ones to explain what truly is real but they don’t have its real explanations just to save themselves from “I don’t know” whenever questions about mysterious issues are asked by the younger ones.
    But in this case, the holy book (Bible) has given us an understanding and an idea about the place called Sodom and Gomorah thousand years before archaeologists now gave us the exact location Thus, the reverse is the case with myth.
    Mythical approach of explanation in philosophy is called Appeal to Ignorance (Argumentum ad Ignorantum).
    Biblical explanations of Sodom and Gomorah is a pure reality and true.

  46. William says

    As a point of logic (or illogic), many atheists confidently assert that certain events in the Bible (such as the destruction of S&G by God) absolutely did not occur.
    Then, when asked for evidence of their assertion, they will either claim that, a) the burden of proof is not on them, but on those who claim the account is true, and/or, b) “you can’t prove a negative”.
    Both statements are asinine & not logical.

    Firstly, a), when an assertion is made that something is NOT true, it is incumbent upon the one asserting that the subject in question is not true to show evidence for that assertion when challenged, and,

    b) it is patently absurd to claim that one cannot prove a negative. For example, if one claims that a gun does NOT exist in their pocket, it is quite easy to prove that this negative assertion is true or false, simply by visually examining the inside of the pocket. (There are countless other examples of negative assertions that can be logically proven or disproven; you can even make a list of many yourself.)

    So,since negative assertions CAN be proven, their claimants can therefore be held accountable to prove their assertion or (if they fail to prove it), admit that their assertion is one that they believe by faith.

    Therefore, the position that “God does not exist” is a position of faith.

    In all actuality, there is certainly logical evidence that God does indeed exist. Christian apologist William Lane Craig provides an excellent point of logic for the existence of God in the following construct:

    Most scientists, philosophers and theologians believe that the Universe had a beginning.

    Since the Universe with all its matter & energy could not have just “popped” into existence without a cause, the cause logically exists OUTSIDE the known Universe, making this “cause” transcendent from the Universe, existing outside time, space, matter and energy.

    Since the Universe is more powerful than we can imagine and its laws more complex than we can imagine, the “creator” of the Universe logically must also be more intelligent and powerful than we can imagine.

    The two foremost theories for the genesis of the Universe are “chance” and “God”, and since “chance” does NOT meet these requirements, and “God” does, then obviously God is the best possible explanation for the genesis of all things.

  47. skip says

    Very good information. Lucky me I discovered youur site by chance
    (stumbleupon). I have bookmarked it for later!

  48. Jonathan says

    What is BAR’s position on the rich deposits of hail-sized sulfur to the west of the Dead Sea? Is that a possible location for the sinful cities of the plains? Why/why not?

  49. rose says

    On Youtube there are videos showing towns and structures that had been so heated they turned to ash that cascaded down in the same approx 40degree angle as seen in any industrial dump site.
    To turn the local stone into this ash does need really hot fire and as the mass of semiburned nodules covering the ara analyses at 98% sulphur and 2% magnesium their origin was not of this world as sulphur deposit around the usual sulphur quarries and volcanoe or hot springs is only about 20-40% purity.
    Magnesium is the stuff that makes some fireworks burn with intense white light and as it can reach temperature over 5000Fahreheit it has no difficulty melting rock and fusing it into the same glassy material found at atom bomb test sites.
    There needs to be some research into the temperature the S&g nodules burn at and how long they maintain a high heat that will effectively heat very thick walls, columns, statuary to turn it all to the flaky material that crumbles to dust at S&G

  50. Jo says

    Is Sodom related to Pompeii (present day- in Italy Rome)?

Continuing the Discussion

  1. Office Fracas - The Daily Slog | The Daily Slog linked to this post on February 22, 2013

    [...] Is Sodom?”–headline, BiblicalArchaeology.org, [...]

  2. Sodom, Herod the Great, New Testament documents, and the Gospel of Thomas | Near Emmaus linked to this post on February 22, 2013

    [...] First, Steve Collins’ excavations from Tall el-Hamman is being discussed in Bible History Daily because Collins thinks it may be Sodom: “Where is Sodom?” [...]

  3. The Naked Bible » Why Sodom and Gomorrah are Not Located at Tall al-Hamman linked to this post on March 4, 2013

    [...] month it will receive the widest hearing to date. I thought it might be helpful for readers of Biblical Archaeology Review to know where to go for another [...]

  4. Daily Bible Text Alerts linked to this post on April 19, 2013

    [...] sent to subscribers. Do you want to get free Bible verses delivered to your phone via SMS text . Where Is Sodom?: Genesis 13, archaeology and Biblical geography … Sign up today! Permalink: [...]

  5. Christians are bad - Page 7 linked to this post on December 7, 2013

    [...] Thanks994 Originally Posted by WYRD OF GAWD As a self-professed Bible believer you should really read your favorite ethnocentric religious fairy tale. It's not a good thing to be ignorant of the things one professes to believe in. Ezekiel 16:52-58 (CEV) = 53 Someday I will bless Sodom and Samaria and their nearby villages. I will also bless you, Jerusalem. 54 Then you will be ashamed of how you’ve acted, and Sodom and Samaria will be relieved that they weren’t as sinful as you. 55 When that day comes, you and Sodom and Samaria will once again be well-off, and all nearby villages will be restored. 56 Jerusalem, you were so arrogant that you sneered at Sodom. 57 But now everyone has learned how wicked you really are. The countries of Syria and Philistia, as well as your other neighbors, hate you and make insulting remarks. 58 You must pay for all the vulgar and disgusting things you have done. I, the Lord, have spoken. Ezekiel 16:52-58 MSG;NLT;WYC;CEV;CJB – ??And Samaria. Samaria didn?t sin – Bible Gateway Someday? Big deal. You do know there is no evidence of them yet Where Is Sodom?: Genesis 13, archaeology and Biblical geography provide new answers ? Biblical Archa… [...]

  6. Why Sodom and Gomorrah are Not Located at Tall al-Hamman | NakedBible linked to this post on February 9, 2014

    [...] month it will receive the widest hearing to date. I thought it might be helpful for readers of Biblical Archaeology Review to know where to go for another [...]

  7. Digging for Gold. Or Brimstone. | A secular Jew in Indianapolis linked to this post on February 19, 2014

    [...] Tall el-Hammam site in Jordan is the location of the biblical Sodom. Biblical Archaeology Review carried an article about this about a year back, as [...]

  8. lv ルイ ヴィトン マルチカラー linked to this post on October 22, 2014

    lv ルイ ヴィトン マルチカラー

    Where Is Sodom?: Genesis 13, archaeology and Biblical geography provide new answers – Biblical Archaeology Society


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