Sodom: a meteor impact? | National exam
A new paper in Nature collects scientific and archaeological evidence of a massive meteor explosion in the atmosphere, destroying an entire city around 1650 BC. the authors speculate that this may match the biblical story of the destruction of Sodom:
~ 1650 BCE (~ 3600 years ago), a cosmic aerial explosion destroyed Tall el-Hammam, a Middle Bronze Age town in the south of the Jordan Valley, northeast of the Dead Sea. The proposed explosion was larger than the 1908 explosion over Tunguska, Russia, [which] exploded with ~ 1000 times more energy than the atomic bomb in Hiroshima. . . . Heating experiments indicate temperatures above 2000 ° C. Amidst the devastation on the city side, the explosion was demolished. . . the 4-5 storey palace complex and massive mud brick wall 4m thick, while causing extreme disarticulation and skeletal fragmentation in humans nearby. An influx of salt linked to the air explosions. . . produced hypersalinity, inhibited agriculture, and caused an approximately 300 to 600-year-old abandonment of about 120 regional settlements within a radius of over 25 km. Tall el-Hammam is possibly the second oldest town / town destroyed by explosion / cosmic impact. . . and perhaps the oldest site with an oral tradition that has been written down (Genesis).
There is an ongoing debate as to whether Tall el-Hammam could be the biblical city of Sodom. . . but this question is beyond the scope of this survey. Questions about the potential existence, age and location of Sodom are not directly related to the fundamental question addressed in this investigation as to the processes that produced high temperature materials in Tall el-Hammam during the MBA. Nonetheless, we wonder if oral traditions about the destruction of this urban city by a cosmic object could be the source of the written version of Sodom in Genesis. . . . It is worth speculating that a remarkable catastrophe, such as the destruction of Tall el-Hammam by a cosmic object, may have generated an oral tradition which, having been passed down through many generations, has become the source of the written history of Sodom in the Bible. Genesis. The description in Genesis of the destruction of an urban center in the Dead Sea region is consistent with having been eyewitness testimony to a cosmic aerial explosion, for example, (i) stones fell from the sky ; (ii) fire came down from heaven; (iii) thick smoke rose from the fires; (iv) a large city was devastated; (v) residents of the town were killed; and (vi) crops in the area have been destroyed.
The authors published a review in The conversation which offers more images and less scientific jargon to dramatize the event:
As the inhabitants of an ancient Middle Eastern city now called Tall el-Hammam one day went about their daily business around 3,600 years ago, they had no idea that an invisible icy space rock was heading towards them at around 38,000 mph. . . . Flashing in the atmosphere, the rock exploded into a huge fireball about 4 kilometers above the ground. The explosion was about 1,000 times more powerful than Hiroshima’s atomic bomb. The shocked townspeople who watched him were instantly blinded. Air temperatures rose rapidly above 3,600 degrees Fahrenheit (2,000 degrees Celsius). The clothes and the wood immediately caught fire. Swords, spears, mud bricks and pottery began to melt. Almost immediately the whole town was on fire.
Seconds later, a massive shock wave swept through the city. Traveling at around 740 mph (1,200 km / h), it was more powerful than the worst tornado on record. The deadly winds ravaged the city, demolishing all buildings. They sheared the top 40 feet (12 m) of the 4 story palace and blew the mixed debris into the next valley. None of the town’s 8,000 people or animals survived – their bodies were torn apart and their bones were blown into small fragments. About a minute later, 22 km west of Tall el-Hammam, winds from the blast hit the biblical city of Jericho. The walls of Jericho collapsed and the city burned down.
Is it really Sodom? It wouldn’t be the first thing in Genesis to be coherent with historical evidence without being proven by such evidence. Connecting the two inevitably involves a certain amount of faith. But certainly, if the Lord intended to destroy a city in one fell swoop, an atmospheric explosion from a Tunguska-style meteor would be the most effective way to do so within the parameters of things explicable by modern science. The fact that anyone who looks back and returns to the site finds it uninhabitable for centuries due to excess salt seems a particularly apt detail.