A team of archaeologists working on a 10-year excavation near the Dead Sea believe they have unearthed the remains of the ancient city of Sodom, detailed in the book of Genesis. This startling discovery was not only done by using the Bible to locate the city, much of the findings confirm the Biblical account of a once-thriving, wealthy metropolis that met sudden, swift destruction as it burned to the ground from a super-powerful explosive force. The findings continue the steady stream of ancient evidence that continues to confirm the accuracy of the Holy Bible.
Making The Case For Sodom’s Discovery
According to reports:
“Now having completed the tenth season of excavations, an archaeological team headed by Steven Collins of Trinity Southwest University, New Mexico, has unearthed a goldmine of ancient monumental structures and artifacts that are revealing a massive Bronze Age city-state that dominated the region of Jordan’s southern Jordan Valley, even during a time when many other great cities of the “Holy Land” region were either abandoned or in serious decline.
Known as Tall el-Hammam, Collins has been leading excavations at the imposing mound, or tel, since 2005…. Tall el-Hammam seemed to match every Sodom criterion demanded by the text,” he says. “Theorizing, on the basis of the Sodom texts, that Sodom was the largest of the Kikkar [B&E:”kikkar” means “plain”, precisely how this area is described in the biblical text] cities east of the Jordan, I concluded that if one wanted to find Sodom, then one should look for the largest city on the eastern Kikkar that existed during the Middle Bronze Age, the time of Abraham and Lot. When we explored the area, the choice of Tall el-Hammam as the site of Sodom was virtually a no-brainer since it was at least five to ten times larger than all the other Bronze Age sites in the entire region, even beyond the Kikkar of the Jordan.” (source).
Collins and his team were able to locate this massive, buried city by using the Bible as their guide. “It all came from analyzing the Biblical text regarding the location of Sodom,” says Collins. “The quintessential passage holding the geographical key to Sodom’s location is Genesis 13:1-12.” A Bible scholar, Collins based his excavation on the locations highlighted in the text of Genesis:
And Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the south. And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold. And he went on his journeys from the south even to Bethel, unto the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Hai; Unto the place of the altar, which he had make there at the first: and there Abram called on the name of the LORD. And Lot also, which went with Abram, had flocks, and herds, and tents. And the land was not able to bear them, that they might dwell together: for their substance was great, so that they could not dwell together. And there was a strife between the herdmen of Abram’s cattle and the herdmen of Lot’s cattle: and the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled then in the land.
And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren. Is not the whole land before thee? separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left. And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar. Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other. Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom. But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly.- Genesis 13:1-13.
In this passage, Abram, a faithful believer in God, through whom the covenant to bring forth the Messiah and receive the Promised Land was made, tried to resolve a conflict with his new phew Lot. Both men were prosperous land owners with a great deal of cattle and servants. To bring an end to the disputes between their workers, Abram offered to dive the land and give Lot the first choice of which area he desired. Lot, thinking of his potential wealth, chose the “all the plain of Jordan.”
Jordan was a reference to the Jordan river, and specifically the plain on the eastern side of the river. Lot then pitched his tent toward Sodom, facing this thriving city that was in extreme rebellion against God. Soon Lot himself would be drawn to live there, a detail that also held significance in the excavation.
Sodom was situated in an extremely strategic location. It had waterways, trade routes and served as a key trade city during the Early and Middle Bronze Ages (3500 – 1540 BC). This was truly a legendary city. The Bible supports this as the city is mentioned over 45 times in Scripture. Collins’ own search confirmed how impressive this ancient metropolis was:
“The site is monstrous,” say Collins. He describes the site as consisting of both a lower and upper city. It features Early Bronze Age (3500 – 2350 BCE) evidence for a 5.2 meter thick city wall (built and then re-built stronger following an earthquake) as much as 10 meters in height and made entirely of mudbricks, with associated gates, towers, at least one roadway, and plazas. During the Middle Bronze Age (2000 – 1540 BCE), new construction, even more massive than those of the Early Bronze Age, replaced the old. To fortify the upper city, the Middle Bronze Age inhabitants built a massive mudbrick defensive rampart system. “It was a huge undertaking, requiring millions of bricks and, obviously, large numbers of laborers.” (source).
In Genesis 14, a confederacy of Kings who lived east of Sodom attacked the city, forcing Bera, the king of Sodom, to flee. The Bible records specifically that although a number of cities were attacked during this war: “And they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their victuals, and went their way. And they took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son, who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.” (Genesis 14:11-12). The “goods” of Sodom and its sister city Gomorrah, were of great value. Abram led an assault against the attackers who ransacked Sodom and kidnapped his nephew Lot and was offered the “goods”- most likely, cattle, gold, silver and other portable items, as a reward for rescuing the city. But he refused any payment: “That I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich…” (Genesis 14:23). This verse not only demonstrates the humility Abram had before God (as he did not want to give any human benefactor credit for his victory) it reinforces the wealth of Sodom and its royalty.
The Supernatural Destruction of Sodom Confirmed?
Perhaps most startling in the discoveries by Collins and his team was confirmation of the a swift, devastating destruction of the city in the Bronze period. Based on evidence gathered during 10 years of excavation, Collins discovered that despite its ideal location and prominence, Sodom suddenly became a “wasteland” for 700 years with no human habitation. Why? It appears that the city burned under supernatural levels of heat:
One possibility could have something to do with a Middle Bronze period ash layer discovered at various excavation areas of the Tall. The “red palace”, so-called because of the red discoloration of the mudbrick due to a burning, could be another clue. Evidence of fiery destructions are commonplace among archaeological sites across the Levant, usually associated with conflict and military campaigns. Recovered pottery shards evidencing exposure to very high temperature levels, much higher than what would be expected from heating from a kiln or oven, could be yet another clue. Collins has hypothesized that the latter could have resulted from an ancient ‘airburst’, a mid-air explosion caused by an object in the air above the ‘target’ area, such as that of an incoming meteor. (source).
The bible records in Genesis 18, The Lord Jesus Christ and two angels announcing to Abram that they intend to destroy Sodom because of rampant wickedness and perversion:
And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know. And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the LORD. And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked? – Genesis 18:20-23.
Abraham pleaded with God to spare Sodom (where his nephew still lived) and God agreed that if there were even 10 righteous people in the cities he would spare them. The next chapter records the angels who went to rescue Lot and his family from Sodom before its destruction. And in this encounter the Bible gives insight into the level of depravity in this bustling metropolis:
And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground; And he said, Behold now, my lords, turn in, I pray you, into your servant’s house, and tarry all night, and wash your feet, and ye shall rise up early, and go on your ways. And they said, Nay; but we will abide in the street all night. And he pressed upon them greatly; and they turned in unto him, and entered into his house; and he made them a feast, and did bake unleavened bread, and they did eat. But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter: And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them. And Lot went out at the door unto them, and shut the door after him, And said, I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly. – Genesis 19:1-7.
When the chapter opens Lot is sitting in the “gate” of the city. The gates of ancient cities were often buildings, that people could inhabit, use as watchtowers or sell goods from. The findings of Collins and his team confirm such a gate’s existence. As the Bible records, the city was given over to sinful lusts, that when the two male angels entered Lot’s home, all the men and boys “from every quarter” of the city stormed Lot’s house demanding the men be put in the street so they could be sexually assaulted by all of them in public. When Lot pleaded with the men to stop their attempted assault (even foolishly offering his own daughters to the mob) they then threatened to do even worse to him.
This was the level of sin the city of Sodom in its “heyday.” Public, open deviance and violence was not only condoned, it was became custom. This was why The Lord said the cry of the sin of Sodom was great. Throughout the Bible Sodom served as the metaphorical standard for sinful rebellion. And because of its sin, God destroyed the city supernaturally:
And the men said unto Lot, Hast thou here any besides? son in law, and thy sons, and thy daughters, and whatsoever thou hast in the city, bring them out of this place: For we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the LORD; and the LORD hath sent us to destroy it… Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven; 25 And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground. – Genesis 19:12-14; 24-25.
The burned bricks, ashes and “red palace” discovered by Collins appear to confirm the swift end of life in the city was brought on by fire. Additionally some of the pottery recovered from the site was exposed to temperatures so high, they had the same reaction to pottery recovered from a nuclear blast test site. And in this instance, the destruction was so devastating that no one lived in the area for 700 years.
Yet Another Confirmation Of The Bible
As with the recent translation of an ancient Hebrew scroll that contained Biblical passages matching the text of today’s King James Bible, or the recent discovery of the “Last Supper Necklace” – a 3,500 year old Egyptian necklace that contained a series of Bible verses on it, the excavation of Sodom provides even further ancient confirmation of the truth and accuracy of the Bible. In the New Testament, Scripture explains that Sodom and Gomorrah stood as a type and symbol for the eternal damnation of Hell. A wealthy, prosperous city that seemingly “had it all” found it that there is nothing good in life when one is in rebellion against God. All the worldly possessions, fame and pleasures in the world can be taken from us in an instant. That is how precious and fragile life is. And the lesson we are to learn from Sodom is that we are trust, believe and worship God, lest we face the fire and brimstone of eternal damnation. Each day we are alive we are given the opportunity to believe God and avoid his wrath like Abraham and Lot or reject God, doubt His word and carry on with our sinful ways like the city of Sodom.
Psalm 86:5 says of God: “For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee.” God’s desire is for sinners to pray to Him for forgiveness, which He gives freely. Jesus Christ earned the right to redeem those who believe by giving His life on the cross and taking the wrath all people deserve. All people, this author included, like the people of Sodom, have sinned willfully and repeatedly against God. The only question is will remain in that sin, stubbornly rejecting God or humble ourselves like Lot and flee the sinful life before destruction comes. God wants us to repent and believe. And even the ancient world cries out to believe.
A documentary on the research of Dr. Collins and his team is below: