"Then the Lord rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah. It was from the Lord out of heaven" Genesis 19:24
A recent scientific study confirmed what students of the Bible have known all along: a catastrophe from the heavens destroyed all life in the area of the Dead Sea many thousands of years ago.
After a decade of digging, archaeologist Phillip Silvia of Trinity Southwest University in Albuquerque reported on his research on the Dead Sea area at the annual meeting of the American Schools of Oriental Research.
Silvia led excavations at five large sites on the Jordanian side of the Jordan River. According to Silvia, the 15 square-mile circular Middle Ghor was a fertile plain, populated continuously for at least 2,500 hundred years. Some form of catastrophe 3,700 years ago brought this to a sudden end, wiping out all of the estimated 40,000 to 65,000 people who inhabited the area at the time.
Studies of the remains of 120 small settlements in the region showed signs of extreme, collapse-inducing heat and wind. Pottery was discovered to have been exposed to heat so intense that it melted into glass. Zircon crystals in those glassy coats formed within one second at extremely high temperatures, perhaps as hot as the surface of the sun. Pottery fragments discovered at the Tall el-Hammam site contained tiny, spherical mineral grains that apparently rained down on the area.
The event was so catastrophic that the area remained unpopulated for 600 years.
The signs were clear but the precise nature of the catastrophe eluded researchers until they turned their eyes heavenward.
They suspected a huge and powerful meteor strike but the lack of a crater stymied them. An impact of that intensity would surely leave behind signs. The researchers came up with a slightly different scenario: a meteoric airburst like one that took place 100 years ago in Russia.
Tunguska is a sparsely populated forested region in Siberia, Russia. On the morning of June 30, 1908, a huge explosion flattened 770 square miles of forest. The explosion is generally attributed to the airburst of a meteor. Scientists concluded the destruction was the result of an airburst 3 to 6 miles above the area of destruction. The burst equaled that of a 15-megaton nuclear explosion, or 1,000 times more powerful than the first nuclear bomb ever made that was dropped on Hiroshima 37 years later. There were no known human casualties in the Tunguska Event.
"The destruction not only of Tall el-Hammam (Sodom), but also its neighbors (Gomorrah and the other cities of the plain) was most likely caused by a meteoritic airburst event," the authors conclude.
Silvia also found evidence that shock waves from the explosion pushed a bubbling brine of Dead Sea salts over once-fertile farmland.
The scientific explanation clearly reflects the Biblical description of the destruction of the twin cities of evil located in the same area.
"Then the Lord rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah. It was from the Lord out of heaven. So He overthrew those cities, all the valley, all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground" Genesis 19:24-25.
The similarity of their conclusions was not lost on the researchers. Co-author of the research paper, Dr. Steven Collins, wrote in an article in Biblical Archaeology Review article that the Biblical account was a result of a real event being incorporated into the collective unconscious and consequently being recorded in the Bible.
"The memory of the destruction of ha-kikkar, with its large population and extensive agricultural lands, was preserved in the Book of Genesis and ultimately incorporated into a traditional tale that, drawing on the layer of ash that covered the destruction of one of its major cities, remembered a place consumed by a fiery catastrophe from 'out of the heavens'," he writes. "The Bible gives the city's name: Sodom."
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