A theologian claims archaeological finds in Jordan are proof the biblical city of Sodom really existed.
Scientists previously found evidence that the ancient city of Tall el-Hammam in the southern Jordan Valley was destroyed in a catastrophic event. And Dr John Bergsma, a Professor of Theology at Ohio’s Franciscan University, suggests such an event mirrors what is in the Bible.
According to Genesis, God rained sulphur and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah for their “wickedness” – completely obliterating them.
Examples of such devastation were seen in Tall el-Hammam and what was found completely changed Dr Bergsma’s perspective on the Old Testament. He recalled evidence of extreme heating on skeletons and fragments of pottery found by the archaeologists which could have been proof of a direct hit from an asteroid. About 3,600 years ago the city of Tall el-Hammam was thriving – significantly larger and more powerful than Jerusalem or Jericho.
But almost overnight it was gone.
The absence of any arrowheads or other signs of a siege in the ruins suggested that whatever destroyed Tall el-Hammam and its neighbour, it wasn’t a military attack.
Steven Collins, the principal archaeologist at Tall el-Hammam, told Dr Bergsma about some of the astonishing findings.
He discovered pieces of pottery discovered on the site had been covered in Trinitite.
Trinitite, Dr Bergsma explained, is “that glass layer that you get when you set off an atomic bomb in the desert and it melts the sand”.
Dr Bergsma continued: “They also started to find human remains.
“Human skeletons that are complete up until about halfway up the backbone and then there’s just a scorch mark and there’s nothing on the top of the body…
“They find massive evidence that a huge heat blast from the sky at about 25C above the horizon incinerated these twin cities on the Jordanian side of the river.”
Steven Collins likened the devastation to the Tunguska Event of 1908, when a massive asteroid slammed into the Earth’s atmosphere over Siberia, causing widespread devastation.
He continued: “The proposed airburst was larger than the 1908 explosion over Tunguska, Russia, where a 50-metre-wide bolide detonated with 1,000 times more energy than the Hiroshima atomic bomb.”
The airburst also appeared to have produced large amounts of salt, according to James Kennett, emeritus professor of earth science at the University of California.
It calls to mind the story of Lot’s wife being turned to salt after the destruction of Sodom.
“The salt was thrown up due to the high impact pressures,” he said. “And it may be that the impact partially hit the Dead Sea, which is rich in salt.”
Some archaeologists have accused Mr Collins of jumping to conclusions without enough evidence.
Professor Kennett has said that it’s possible the event simply inspired later legends such as Sodom or the destruction of Jericho.
But Dr Bergsma is convinced, saying: “It really changed my perspective on the Old Testament map because what it pointed out to me is things that sounded too outlandish to be history…is actually shown to be a historical event.”