After a dozen years excavating, an archaeological team led by Steven Collins claims to have discovered a city that matches the Bible’s Sodom, the city destroyed, along with Gomorrah, by the wrath of God:
“As the sun rose over the earth, Lot arrived in Zoar; and the Lord rained down burning asphalt from the skies onto Sodom and Gomorrah. The Lord destroyed these cities, the entire valley, everyone who lived in the cities, and all of the fertile land’s vegetation.” (Genesis 19: 23-25)
“Abraham set out early for the place where he had stood with the Lord, and looked out over Sodom and Gomorrah and over all the land of the valley. He saw the smoke from the land rise like the smoke from a kiln. When God destroyed the cities in the valley, God remembered Abraham and sent Lot away from the disaster that overtook the cities in which Lot had lived.” (Genesis 19: 27-29)
Steven Collins of Trinity Southwest University of New Mexico and his team have spent more than ten years digging for the biblical Sodom. (Likev World News)
The newspaper ABC reports that the city is said to be located in the southern Jordan River Valley.
Collins, of the Trinity Southwest University of New Mexico, has been directing the excavations being carried out on the mound of Tall el-Hammam, in Jordan near the Israel border. He reported to Popular Archaeology:
“We know very little about the Bronze Age in the south of the Jordan River Valley. Most archaeological maps of the area were blank. But what we have found is an important city-state, which was unknown before our project began. Tall el-Hammam matches the description of the area where Sodom was located according to the Bible. It was said to be the largest city east of Kikkar. So, I came to the conclusion that if one wanted to find Sodom, one should seek the largest city that existed in this area during the Bronze Age, in the time of Abraham. When we explored the region, Tall el-Hammam was an obvious choice, as it was five to ten times larger than the other Bronze Age cities throughout the region, even those found beyond Jordan.”
Some of the ruins of Tall el-Hammam where archaeologists have been excavating for over a decade. (Impacto Evangelístico)
Collins and the rest of his research team compared the objects discovered in Tall el-Hammam with those found in nearby cities and, based on the artifacts and the excellent location, they have no doubt that Tall el-Hammam was the ancient city of Sodom.
Furthermore, Collins states that this gigantic city-state was abandoned under mysterious circumstances at the end of the Bronze Age. It became an uninhabited wasteland for over 700 years but then, after those seven centuries, it started to flourish again – as indicated by the huge iron gate that leads into the city.
The city of Tall el-Hammam is located in the south of the Jordan River Valley. (Deror_avi/CC-BY-SA-3.0)
Key Characteristics of the City
Collins explained that this discovery is a milestone for archeology and that the people that lived in this region once thrived in their carefully selected location (near abundant water resources and crossing several trade routes of the time), and the area was especially important between 3500 – 1450 BC.
The city, which has been described as “monstrous,” has two main districts and is surrounded by a thick adobe wall measuring 5- 10 meters (16.4 – 32.8 feet) high. There are also many plazas connected by several roads.
About four meters below the modern surface of Tall el-Hammam, excavators encountered a house from the middle of the Bronze Age that is located in a “layer of destruction.” This house is about three meters (9.8 feet) below the Iron Age stratus. Bottom left, Steven Collins, director of the project (biblearchaeology.org)
Speaking on the construction of the city, Collins said:
“The wall surrounding the upper city was a huge undertaking, requiring millions of bricks and obviously a large number of workers. The top of the wall had a thickness of about 7 meters (23 feet.) The exterior was covered with clay and rose to more than 30 meters (98 feet) above the lower town. It was an impressive and formidable defensive system that was intended to protect the homes of the richest citizens of the city, including the king’s palace, as well as temples and other administrative buildings.”
That is not to say that the part of the wall that protected the lower town was lacking: it was 4 meters (13 feet) thick, built on a foundation of boulders, and topped with adobe. Also located in this area are the ruins of a palatial red adobe structure with a gigantic door. Finally, the presence of towers and gates in the walls, in addition to the other elements, indicates that this city’s fortifications during the Bronze Age were far more powerful than previously thought.
Angels guide Lot and his family out of Sodom while his wife is turned into a pillar of salt for watching the destruction of the city – disobeying God’s command. Woodcut from the Nuremberg Chronicle, the work of Hartmann Schedel (1493). (Public Domain)
This discovery will create a better understanding of the way of life for the inhabitants of the region during the Bronze Age. If it is confirmed that this is, in fact, the location of the Biblical city of Sodom, this find could also change history.
Featured image: The Great Day of God’s wrath (1853), oil on canvas by John Martin, Tate Gallery in London. (Public Domain)
This article was first published in Spanish at https://www.ancient-origins.es/ and has been translated with permission.
By: Mariló TA