Archaeologists and theologians are working together to analyze recent discoveries and explain what happened to the ancient city of Sodom found in the Bible’s Old Testament book of Genesis.
Dr. John Bergsma, a professor of theology at Steubenville, Ohio’s Franciscan University, thinks the evidence uncovered at Tall el-Hammam located in the southern Jordan Valley may have been caused by a very large exploding space rock, according to Relevant magazine.
Tall el-Hammam’s sudden disappearance about 3,600 years ago has been a mystery to archaeologists for years. In the city’s ruins, there are no signs of an extended military siege or conflict. However, other signs point to a different catastrophic cause, the outlet reported.
One thing that drew Bergsma’s interest was the marks of extreme heat left on pottery fragments, human skeletal remains, and other artifacts, Relevant reported. This type of heat damage could possibly be from a giant asteroid exploding above the city similar to what Genesis 19:24-25 describes in the Old Testament.
“Then GOD rained brimstone and fire down on Sodom and Gomorrah—a river of lava from GOD out of the sky!—and destroyed these cities and the entire plain and everyone who lived in the cities and everything that grew from the ground.”
**Please sign up for CBN Newsletters and download the CBN News app to ensure you keep receiving the latest news from a distinctly Christian perspective.***
The evidence points to a sudden, high-temperature destructive event that occurred. Smithsonian Magazine reported that pottery pieces from the site showed melting on the outside, but were left untouched on the inside.
In addition, pottery shards found at the Tall el-Hammam site were also covered in Trinitite. It is the glassy residue that was left on the desert floor after the plutonium-based Trinity nuclear bomb test on July 16, 1945, near Alamogordo, New Mexico. The glass is primarily comprised of arkosic sand including quartz grains and feldspar that has been melted by an atomic blast.
The presence of Trinitite adds weight to the theory that a high-energy event, like an asteroid explosion/impact, occurred in the area, according to Relevant.
Bergsma also told the outlet about the unique grotesque condition of the human remains at the dig site.
“Human skeletons 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,” he described. “They found 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.”
Destructive Force Several Times Larger Than Siberian Explosion
Steven Collins, dean of the College of Archaeology at Trinity Southwest University, and the lead archaeologist at Tall el-Hammam has theorized the airburst over the city might have been even larger than the Tunguska Event of 1908, an asteroid explosion over remote Siberia that caused massive destruction, according to Relevant. It would have expended even more energy than when the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan in August of 1945.
According to NASA, on June 30, 1908, an asteroid plunged into Earth’s atmosphere and exploded in the skies over Siberia. Local eyewitnesses in the sparsely populated region reported seeing a fireball and hearing a large explosion. They also reported massive forest fires, and trees blown over for miles. Because of the remoteness of the site, the event garnered little attention. The first scientific expedition did not reach the area until 1927, but still found ample evidence of the asteroid’s destruction caused by the shock wave and heat blast from the aerial explosion.
As CBN News has reported, Collins co-authored a paper that confirmed the city was destroyed by a “thermal event.”
“The violent conflagration that ended occupation at Tall el-Hammam produced melted pottery, scorched foundation stones, and several feet of ash and destruction debris churned into a dark gray matrix as if in a Cuisinart,” he noted.
In another co-authored paper, archaeologists Phillip J. Silvia and Collins wrote, “The physical evidence from Tall el-Hammam and neighboring sites exhibit signs of a highly destructive concussive and thermal event that one might expect from what is described in Genesis 19.”
In that paper, they concluded that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by a meteoritic airburst.
A paper originally published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports in 2021, but updated this past May, backs up Collins’ theory that the event over the ancient city was “much larger in force than the Tunguska event.”
The bomb dropped on Hiroshima had a measured 15 kilotons of energy, the blast equivalent of 15,000 tons of TNT. The damage at Tunguska was measured at 5 megatons or 5 million tons of TNT, according to the paper.
Using a supercomputer to analyze the data at the site, the paper’s authors have suggested the destructive force at Tall el-Hammam was at least in the 15-megaton range, having a blast equivalent of 15 million tons of TNT.
Genesis 19:27-28 describes the aftermath in the valley.
“Early the next morning Abraham got up and returned to the place where he had stood before the Lord. He looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, toward all the land of the plain, and he saw dense smoke rising from the land, like smoke from a furnace.”
Impact Generated Large Amounts of Salt, A Historical Event
The high-energy airburst also appears to have generated large amounts of salt that hearkens back to the Genesis 19 account of Lot’s wife being turned into a pillar of salt, Relevant reported.
“As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, ‘Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!’” — Genesis 19:17
“The salt was thrown up due to the high impact pressures,” James Kennett, an emeritus professor of earth science at the University of California, told the outlet. “And it may be that the impact partially hit the Dead Sea, which is rich in salt.”
Bergsma told Relevant that he’s convinced what the archaeologists have found explains what happened to the biblical cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.
“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,” he said.
Archaeologist Used the Genesis Account to Find the Location
As CBN News reported in July, Collins told Joel. C Rosenberg in an episode of The Rosenberg Report how he and his team found the biblical cities in Jordan.
Collins said he used the scriptures as clues to find the cities’ location, focusing his search on the Jordan River Valley.
From there he used clues from the Bible, including a reference made in Genesis 13:10 that reads:
“And Lot lifted up his eyes and saw that the Jordan Valley was well watered everywhere like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, in the direction of Zoar. (This was before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.)”
“The proper question to ask in the location of Sodom is, ‘Where was Lot standing when he lifted up his eyes and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan was well-watered?’ It was Bethel and Ai,” Collins explained.