How a meteor may have destroyed an ancient city and inspired the biblical tale of Sodom
Researchers have found evidence that an ancient city in the Jordan Valley could have been destroyed when a meteor or space rock exploded above it about 3,600 years ago.
Tall el-Hammam is believed to be the inspiration for the biblical city of Sodom, which means that the explosion or “airburst” of the space rock could be the origin of the story of this city’s destruction in Old Testament.
The explosion above Tall el-Hammam was large enough to raze the ancient city, flattening its palace, mud-brick structures and the wall that surrounded the city, according to an article published in Scientific reports on nature noted.
The study compares the aerial explosion that occurred around 1650 BCE to the Tunguska event that occurred in 1908 when a meteor 183 to 196 feet entered the Earth’s atmosphere above. from eastern Siberia at about 33,500 miles per hour and exploded.
The resulting explosion released about 12 megatons of energy, or about 1,000 times the energy of the atomic bomb that devastated Hiroshima.
Additionally, the authors, including UC Santa Barbara Emeritus Professor of Earth Sciences James Kennett, believe this ancient aerial explosion could have been even more powerful than the one behind the Tunguska event.
“There is evidence of a large cosmic aerial explosion near this town called Tall el-Hammam,” Kennett said in a press release. “This is an incredibly culturally important area. Much of where the early cultural complexity of humans developed is in this general area.”
The site has been popular with archaeologists for this reason, but among the layers that testify to settlements from the Copper Age (5000 to 3300 BCE) to the Bronze Age (3300 to 1200 BCE ), there is a strange 1.5-meter interval.
In this interval, archaeologists have discovered materials that are generally associated with destruction resulting from war or earthquakes. This includes molten glass pottery shards, bubbling mud brick, and even molten building materials.
All of this points to temperatures far above anything that could be artificially generated at the time. “We have seen evidence of temperatures above 2,000 degrees Celsius,” Kennett said.
Among the charred material and destroyed structures were the skeletal remains of humans which the newspaper said were fragmented.
Kennett and his team recognized what the charred and molten material and human remains with “extreme disarticulation and skeletal fragmentation” represented, as they were also involved in setting up an investigation into a similar aerial explosion that s ‘was produced 12,800 years ago.
Further analysis of the soil revealed small spheres of iron and silica as well as molten metals. Kennett added that the main evidence of an aerial explosion discovered by his team was a material called shocked quartz.
“These are grains of sand containing cracks that only form under very high pressure,” said the researcher. “We shocked the quartz in this layer, and that meant there was incredible pressures involved in shocking the quartz crystals – quartz is one of the hardest minerals; it’s very hard to shock.”
The area also has a high level of salt in the layers deposited at the time of the proposed air blast, which the authors say may have been thrown by the blast. Kennett suggests that this could also be why the Dead Sea is so high in salt.
Salt connects the fate of Tell el-Hamman to the biblical story of Sodom. As Lot and his family fled the city, his wife turns to see the destruction and is punished by God who turns her into a pillar of salt.
The tale also describes fire and brimstone and rocks raining down from heaven with Sodom flattened, its agriculture razed and its inhabitants slain.
Tell el-Hamman, located northeast of the Dead Sea and one of the most populous Bronze Age areas with a population 10 times that of Jerusalem, has been linked to the city of Sodom for many years. years.
In 2015, Professor of Biblical Studies and Apologetics at Trinity Southwest University, Dr. Steven Collins, told the Popular Archeology website that Tall el-Hammam met “all the criteria” for Sodom.
The description of the meteor’s aerial explosion certainly resembles the story of biblical destruction, but Kennett is careful.
“All the observations stated in Genesis are consistent with a cosmic burst, but there is no scientific proof that this destroyed city is indeed the Sodom of the Old Testament”, explains the researcher.