The story of Sodom and Gomorrah in the Book of Genesis, where God ‘rains burning sulphur’ on the cities, might have a grain of truth, archaeologists claim.
A meteor that exploded above the Dead Sea 3,700 years ago with the force of a nuclear device might have wiped out tens of thousands of people, and devastated a wide area, researchers say.
Tests on the soil hint it was contaminated by salts, making it unable to be farmed for hundreds of years, the researchers say.
A dig at the Bronze age city of Tall el-Hamman (which some believe to be the Biblical city of Sodom) suggest that the heavily defended city (with 50ft high walls) was blasted by a powerful shock wave.
Writing in a paper entitled, ‘The Civilization-Ending 3.7KYrBP Event: Archaeological Data, Sample Analyses, and Biblical Implications’, the researchers say that the blast may have wiped out settlements in an area of 193 square miles.
Previously archaeologists had believed that the settlement might have been damaged in an earthquake, but the damage to the walls is directional – hinting it might be a shock wave.
A pottery shard found at the site also had one side melted into glass – which the researchers believe could have been caused by a sudden temperature of 4,000C.
Samples from the soil also show high levels of sulfates, which may have meant that the area was left unable to support farming for hundreds of years after the blast, which the researchers say may have been equivalent to a 10-megaton nuclear device.
The researchers write, ‘the archaeological data collected from across the entire occupational foot-print of Tall el-Hammam, [demonstrates] a directionality pattern for the high-heat, explosive 3.7KYrBP Kikkar Event that, in an instant, devastated approximately 500km2 immediately north of the Dead Sea, not only wiping out 100% of… cities and towns, but also stripping agricultural soils from once-fertile fields and covering… Tall el-Hammam—with a super-heated brine of Dead Sea anhydride salts pushed over the landscape by the Event’s frontal shockwave.’