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Archaeologists Claim to have Discovered the Location of the Biblical City of Sodom

Archaeologists Claim to have Discovered the Location of the Biblical City of Sodom



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After a dozen years excavating, an archaeological team led by Steven Collins claims to have discovered a city that matches the Bible’s Sodom, the city destroyed, along with Gomorrah, by the wrath of God:

“As the sun rose over the earth, Lot arrived in Zoar; and the Lord rained down burning asphalt from the skies onto Sodom and Gomorrah. The Lord destroyed these cities, the entire valley, everyone who lived in the cities, and all of the fertile land’s vegetation.” (Genesis 19: 23-25)

“Abraham set out early for the place where he had stood with the Lord , and looked out over Sodom and Gomorrah and over all the land of the valley. He saw the smoke from the land rise like the smoke from a kiln. When God destroyed the cities in the valley, God remembered Abraham and sent Lot away from the disaster that overtook the cities in which Lot had lived.” (Genesis 19: 27-29)

Steven Collins of Trinity Southwest University of New Mexico and his team have spent more than ten years digging for the biblical Sodom. ( Likev World News )

The newspaper ABC reports that the city is said to be located in the southern Jordan River Valley.

Collins, of the Trinity Southwest University of New Mexico , has been directing the excavations being carried out on the mound of Tall el-Hammam , in Jordan near the Israel border. He reported to Popular Archaeology :

"We know very little about the Bronze Age in the south of the Jordan River Valley. Most archaeological maps of the area were blank. But what we have found is an important city-state , which was unknown before our project began. Tall el-Hammam matches the description of the area where Sodom was located according to the Bible. It was said to be the largest city east of Kikkar. So, I came to the conclusion that if one wanted to find Sodom, one should seek the largest city that existed in this area during the Bronze Age, in the time of Abraham. When we explored the region, Tall el-Hammam was an obvious choice, as it was five to ten times larger than the other Bronze Age cities throughout the region, even those found beyond Jordan."

Some of the ruins of Tall el-Hammam where archaeologists have been excavating for over a decade. ( Impacto Evangelístico )

Collins and the rest of his research team compared the objects discovered in Tall el-Hammam with those found in nearby cities and, based on the artifacts and the excellent location, they have no doubt that Tall el-Hammam was the ancient city of Sodom.

  • The Wrath of the Gods: Sodom and Gomorrah
  • Sodom & Gomorrah - Scientific Evidence
  • The ‘Cursed’ city of Chorazin

Furthermore, Collins states that this gigantic city-state was abandoned under mysterious circumstances at the end of the Bronze Age. It became an uninhabited wasteland for over 700 years but then, after those seven centuries, it started to flourish again – as indicated by the huge iron gate that leads into the city.

The city of Tall el-Hammam is located in the south of the Jordan River Valley. (Deror_avi/ CC-BY-SA-3.0)

Key Characteristics of the City

Collins explained that this discovery is a milestone for archeology and that the people that lived in this region once thrived in their carefully selected location (near abundant water resources and crossing several trade routes of the time), and the area was especially important between 3500 - 1450 BC.

The city, which has been described as "monstrous," has two main districts and is surrounded by a thick adobe wall measuring 5- 10 meters (16.4 – 32.8 feet) high. There are also many plazas connected by several roads.

About four meters below the modern surface of Tall el-Hammam, excavators encountered a house from the middle of the Bronze Age that is located in a "layer of destruction." This house is about three meters (9.8 feet) below the Iron Age stratus. Bottom left, Steven Collins, director of the project ( biblearchaeology.org)

Speaking on the construction of the city, Collins said:

“The wall surrounding the upper city was a huge undertaking, requiring millions of bricks and obviously a large number of workers. The top of the wall had a thickness of about 7 meters (23 feet.) The exterior was covered with clay and rose to more than 30 meters (98 feet) above the lower town. It was an impressive and formidable defensive system that was intended to protect the homes of the richest citizens of the city, including the king’s palace, as well as temples and other administrative buildings."

That is not to say that the part of the wall that protected the lower town was lacking: it was 4 meters (13 feet) thick, built on a foundation of boulders, and topped with adobe. Also located in this area are the ruins of a palatial red adobe structure with a gigantic door. Finally, the presence of towers and gates in the walls, in addition to the other elements, indicates that this city’s fortifications during the Bronze Age were far more powerful than previously thought.

Angels guide Lot and his family out of Sodom while his wife is turned into a pillar of salt for watching the destruction of the city - disobeying God's command. Woodcut from the Nuremberg Chronicle, the work of Hartmann Schedel (1493). ( )

This discovery will create a better understanding of the way of life for the inhabitants of the region during the Bronze Age. If it is confirmed that this is, in fact, the location of the Biblical city of Sodom, this find could also change history.

Featured image: The Great Day of God's wrath (1853), oil on canvas by John Martin, Tate Gallery in London. ( )

This article was first published in Spanish at https://www.ancient-origins.es/ and has been translated with permission.

By: Mariló TA


Did Archaeologists Discover The Biblical City Of Sodom?

The fiery fate of the doomed cities of Sodom and Gomorrah has captured the imaginations of artists, theologians and archaeologists for years. The book of Genesis describes how God "rained down burning sulfur" to punish those cities for their wickedness, destroying all living things inside of them.

But is there any proof that these cities really existed and that they were destroyed by a sudden calamity?

The answer, for Dr. Steven Collins, a professor of Biblical studies and apologetics at Trinity Southwest University, is yes. He claims he may have located Sodom.

Since 2005, Collins and his team have been studying an archaeological site in the southern Jordan Valley known as Tall el-Hammam. After wrapping up the tenth season of excavations, he believes they've found a "goldmine of ancient monumental structures and artifacts" that suggests the site was a powerful city-state during the Early and Middle Bronze Ages (between 3,500 and 1540 B.C.)

Over the years, his research team has found evidence of a massive defensive wall, a palatial structure and a gateway complex that dates back to the Middle Bronze Age. During the 2015 season, the archaeologists found a few more towers and gates.

For Collins, all of this points to the fact that Tall el-Hammam was likely one of the largest cities east of the "Kikkar," a Hebrew word that describes the plains near the Jordan River. He also claims that Tall el-Hamman is strategically located near ancient water resources and trade routes.

The professor says there's a good chance that the Biblical text is referring to Tall el-Hammam when it describes Sodom.

"Tall el-Hammam seemed to match every Sodom criterion demanded by the [Bible]," he told Popular Archaeology. "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."

His team also unearthed evidence that suggests the booming city came to a sudden end near the end of the Middle Bronze Age, which is close to the time that Collins believes the Biblical leaders Abraham and Lot walked the earth. It's unclear what caused the city's change in fortune, but one possibility is that it was destroyed by fire. The site reportedly remained a wasteland for about 700 years after this event.

Collins isn't alone in his quest to find Sodom. Other scholars have suggested that Sodom and Gomorrah rose to prominence in the early Bronze Age and that they were located in different regions near the Dead Sea.

Hershel Shanks, the editor of the Biblical Archaeology Review magazine, agreed that Tall el-Hammam seemed like it could be the site of ancient Sodom -- but he cautioned that locating an ancient city destroyed by God is at its core a theological question.

"Theological questions are not subject to scientific proof—or disproof. But whoever wrote down this text did have some site in mind when he said that God destroyed Sodom," Shanks told The Huffington Post in an email. "Tall el-Hammam is an excellent candidate for the site the author of the Biblical text had in mind when he said that God destroyed Sodom."


The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, an 1852 oil on canvas painting done by John Martin, as displayed at the Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne in England. (Wikimedia Commons)

A team of archaeologists led by Prof. Steve Collins has reportedly unearthed the ruins of the ancient cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, which according to the Bible suffered a catastrophic destruction caused by God.

Collins and his team from the Trinity Southwest University in New Mexico announced that after 10 years of excavation and study as part of the Tall el-Hammam excavation project, they have discovered what seems to be the site of the biblical city of Sodom, according to the digital magazine Popular Archeology.

"The archaeological team 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," Collins said.

"Very, very little was known about the Bronze Age in the Middle Ghor (southern Jordan Valley) before we began our excavations in 2005," he said. "Even most of the archaeological maps of the area were blank, or mostly so. What we've got on our hands is a major city-state that was, for all practical purposes, unknown to scholars before we started our project."

Collins said when comparing the newly discovered ruins with the remains of other nearby ancient cities, along with its prime location and dates of occupation, "it emerges as the best candidate for the lost city of Sodom—the infamous city that, based on the Biblical account, was destroyed by God in a fiery cataclysm because of its iniquity."

"Tall el-Hammam seemed to match every Sodom criterion demanded by the text," he said.

According to Wikipedia, Sodom and Gomorrah were cities mentioned in the Book of Genesis and throughout the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament and in the deutorocanonical Book of Wisdom, as well as in the Qur'an and hadith.

In the book of Torah, it was mentioned that the kingdoms of Sodom and Gomorrah and three other cities were known as the "Cities of Plain" as these were situated on the Jordan River plain in the southern region of the land of Canaan. The plain was then compared to the Garden of Eden as being "a land well-watered and green, suitable for grazing livestock."

When "divine judgment'' by God was reportedly passed upon Sodom and Gomorrah and two neighbouring cities, "they were completely consumed by fire and brimstone." The cities then have become synonymous with sin, according to Wikipedia.


Biblical city of Sodom found in Jordan

After decades of excavations, researchers believe they have finally found the ruins of the Biblical city of Sodom. Experts in Tall El Hammam area in Jordan claim that the ruins of a “monstrous” bronze age city refer to the Biblical portrayal of God’s ruined city.

This site may not only have been the largest town in the area, as ment-ioned in the Bible, but also located to the east of the Jordan River, dates back to 3500 BC and 1540 BC. Within the Book of Genesis the bulk of references to Sodom and Gomorah existed.

Both locations were kingdoms situated on the Jordan River plain, just north of where the Dead Sea is now located, and are described in the bible as being plush, green and well-watered.

Sodom is one of the largest cities in eastern Jordan mentioned in the book of Genesis and the New Testament in particular. It has been des-cribed as located on a shared trading route and was reportedly heavi-ly fortified by towers and large , thick walls because of its size.

In the Bible, Sodom was said to have been destroyed by God after his angels failed to find righteous men within its walls. By comparison, the site, at Tall el-Hamaam, dates back to between 3500 and 1540 BC.

It is said to be the largest city that would have existed in the region between five and 10 times larger than other cities in the area – making it an obvious choice for the site.

Steven Collins from Trinity Southwestern University in New Mexico, who led the project, said it was a ‘monstrous’ city compared to others in the area from the same period.

Little was known about the Bronze Age in the south of the Jordan River Valley, before excavations began in 2005,but the huge city points to a sophisticated society.

Team claims to have found evidence of a city that was expanded and given defences of thick walls and ramparts,including a 5.2-metre thick mudbrick wall of 10 metres high.

The city was continuously expanded and fortified, with evidence for thick walls and ramparts, including one wall that was a 17ft(5.2 metre) thick and 32ft (10 metres) high.

This wall featured gates, watchtowers and at least one roadway.

During the middle Bronze Age, this wall was replaced by a huge, 23ft-wide (7 metre) rampart with a flat top that doubled as a ring road around the city.

The team believes the city it has discovered must be Sodom because evidence suggests it thrives on the banks of the river Jordan and was an important trade route, as described in the Bible.

Further evidence to support the claims is that Tall el-Hamaam was suddenly deserted at some point time towards the end of the middle Bronze Age.

‘What we’ve got on our hands is an important city-state, major city-state that was, for all practical purposes, unknown to scholars before we started our project,’ said Collins.

‘Tall el-Hammam matches the description of the area where Sodom was located according to the Bible’ as the largest city of the fertile east Kikkar area.

‘So, I came to the conclusion that if one wanted to find Sodom, one should seek the largest city that existed in this area during the Bronze Age, in the time of Abraham.

‘When we explored the region, Tall el-Hammam was an obvious choice,as it was five to 10 times larger than the other Bronze Age cities throughout the region, even those found beyond Jordan.’

Mr Collins said: ‘We know very little about the Bronze Age in the south of the Jordan River Valley. Most archaeological maps of the area were blank.

‘It became an uninhabited wasteland for over 700 years but then, after those seven centuries, it started to flourish again – as indicated by the huge iron gate that leads into the city.’

This has been suggested because the researchers have found few artefacts from the late phase of the period in comparison to other settlements in the region.

The area remained deserted for around 700 years, after which the city was repopulated, evidenced by artefacts and remains of an Iron Age settlement.

Archaeologists involved in the project, led by Steven Collins from Trinity Southwestern University in Albuquerque, New Mexico, believe this evidence, when taken with the city’s prime location, makes it the best candidate for Sodom.

‘Tall el-Hammam seemed to match every Sodom criterion demanded by the text,’ he added.

The destruction of Sodom, along with Gomorrah was recorded in numerous parts of the Bible, including Genesis and the New Testament, as well as in the Qur’an.

THE JUDGEMENT OF SODOM

In Genesis 18, three angels appearing as men are said to have gone to Abraham in the plains of Mamre. After these angels received the hospitality of Abraham and his wife, Sarah, God told Abraham he would destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, because their ‘sin is very grievous’.

Abraham asked if God would spare the city if 50 righteous people were found in it, to which God agreed. The angels were then sent to Sodom to find the righteous men and were met by Abraham’s nephew Lot.

Men of the city later surrounded Lot’s house and said: ‘Where [are] the men which came in to thee this night? Bring them out unto us, that we may know them.’

Lot refused and, instead, offered them his two virgin daughters which had ‘not known man’. The men refused and the angels warned Lot that the city would be destroyed, advising his family to leave. God is then said to have destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah with ‘brimstone and fire’.

The Old Testament story describes how God destroyed the ‘wicked sinners’ of Sodom with fire and brimstone but allowed Lot, the city’s one good man, to flee with his family. Both cities have since been used as metaphors for vice and homosexuality.

Dr Collins set his sights on finding the largest city that existed in Kikkar during the Bronze Age and he said Tall el-Hammam was the obvious choice, being significantly larger than other cities from the time of Abraham in the area.

Even if the location is not Sodom, the researchers said the discovery is still important because it has shed light on a vast lower and upper city.

The rampart system would have required millions of bricks and hundreds of workers, showing a demonstration or organisation and technology. Evidence also suggests the ruined city had gates, towers, a main road and squares.

Dr Collins said the city was abandoned at the end of the Bronze Age, perhaps following an earthquake, but other experts have suggested an asteroid may have been to blame.

The lack of inhabitants is suggested by the presence of hardly any artefacts from the Late Bronze Age. ‘It became an uninhabited wasteland for over 700 years but then, after those seven centuries, it started to flourish again – as indicated by the huge iron gate that leads into the city,’ he said.

The city was rebuilt in the Iron Age, between 1,000 and 332BC, including a lavish gateway, city wall, and houses which may have made up a cultic centre.


Archaeologists Claim to have Discovered the Location of the Biblical City of Sodom - History

The epicenter of the ACTUAL blast that destroyed Sodom is found at the SOUTHERN end of the Dead Sea at Gawr al-Mazraah. It fits EVERY criterion. You can ALSO see the circular blast pattern in the geology there using Google Earth or Google Maps by going to Sodom Blast Site.
It is a distinct circular depression 8 miles wide.
Check it out

Many things here seem to fit correctly except for the date….it seems to me that this city was destroyed ( as dated by the researchers) a few centuries AFTER the time of Abraham.

I believe Dr. Collins is right on this one. He spoke at a recent conference we hosted on the topic. You can hear what he had to say here:

There surely isn’t a better alternative location for Sodom. Thank Dr. Collins for your important work on this.

I quote the following from the article:
“The stories of Sodom and its destruction. whether historical or not,… were clearly understood to have occurred near the Dead Sea,…”

I point out:”… whether historical or not…”
Do you believe the Bible is truthful…Yes or No…?

I believe the Bible and none whatsoever even if it is evident to my eyes… I blindly believe the Holy Bible only

The story has some cause to be in the Bible can an archeology discover it? It would be great. That God punishes the wicked is all over the Bible St.Paul in many letters condemns perverts.

The Bible itself explained where Sodom, Admah, Gomorrha and Zeboim were and presently are- just under/ inside the dead sea. The dead sea did not exist before the destruction of those cities. Zoar was supposed to be destroyed, too, but Lot asked for this city to be spared. Zoar is up to date located at the south end of the dead sea. In Genesis 14:3 it is explained that the location of the cities was called valley of Siddim. Valley means that the river Jordan was flowing there Gen. 13:10 BEFORE the LORD destroyed the four cities. Abraham could not have battled in the dead sea, but in a valley.God “over turned” the cities Gen.19:29

Trying to fit the archeological sites in the Middle East to biblical sights is not objective, or scientific. Instead it’s kind of presupposing something that cannot possibly be verified unless there is some kind of written script being discovered at the site that indicates the definite provenance of the dig.

Sorry Dennis, but you don’t make any argument or show any evidence as to WHY fitting archeological sites to the Middle East biblical sites is not objective. On the other hand, you may want to do some more reading on Tall El Hammam and other recent digs to see why they do compare very favorably to the biblical account we have. Besides, you could make the same argument for other ancient sites that are recorded in ancient writings. For many of these locations, you will never find a written script because they pre-date writing.

Wes, you are right that the long ages in Genesis fit the common practice in antiquity of exaggerating lifespans to give honor to ancient ancestors. There is no culture that used lifespans to calculate a chronology until after 300 BC. So, to use the Genesis lifespans as a basis for the chronology of Abraham is anachronistic. It is much better to interpret these lifespans “authentically”, i.e., the way the original readers would have. An article explaining why the Genesis lifespans cannot be face value numbers is posted online: https://www.academia.edu/33972456/How_Old_was_Father_Abraham_Re-examining_the_Patriarchal_Lifespans_in_Light_of_Archaeology

It is pointless to respond to the claims of pseudo-archaeology (BAR wouldn’t give the time of day to R. Wyatt) and those holding to Bishop Ussher-style chronologies with which no meaningful Bronze Age archaeology (even ‘biblical’ archaeology) can be done (liberals have denied Torah historicity on this basis). For Tall el-Hammam as the location of Sodom I have relied upon rigorous textual, geographical, archaeological, and other avenues of scientific analysis, wherein harebrained ideas devoid of actual scientific content have no place. So I am done with this little discussion, because so many of the comments are sheer fantasy. I do appreciate those who have substantive things to say. I’m glad to give BAR readers an update on the Tall el-Hammam/Sodom excavations if they request it. I’m also glad to engage in scholarly debate in the pages of BAR on any and all topics related to the subject.
—Steven Collins, Director, Tall el-Hammam Excavation Project, Jordan
Director of the School of Archaeology, Veritas International University

It actually reaches from California to New York.

The difficulty with Merrill’s chronological argument is his bias towards the old Usher and related chronologies. This bias flies in the face of the archaeological evidence indicating that no one has ever lived even close to the long lifespans referenced in the Bible. From studying external sources, such as the Sumerian King’s list, we can see clearly that long lifespans were meant as honorific terms and not actual lengths of life. Dr. Craig Olson has written an excellent article “Which Site is Sodom” addressing the location of Sodom, the long lifespans and the sojourn, I highly recommend it. Looking strictly at the available evidence the Patriarchs were clearly MBII figures, and a destruction of Tall el-Hammam (Sodom) in the 1750-1650 BCE range fits perfectly.

I appreciate the labors of so many professional archaeologists today and the recent past, that are finding artifacts and writings which harmonize with the Biblical Scriptures. And this is as it should be, for the entire Bible has relavent historical facts within the lives of the peoples it portrays.Thank You to all of you. I have been on the dig at Tall el Hammam four times to analyze the bones, and toured Israel and Jordan with TSWU two times. I say that to note that I have looked/studied the geography each time I was there. I became convinced that the Kikkar north of the Dead Sea was indeed the place where Sodom should be. I triangulated three sets of scriptures to come to this conclusion: Gen.13:10-11 (Bethel-Ai), Gen. 18:1,16 and 19:28 (Oaks of Mamre) and Det. 34:1-3 (Mt Nebo). I know that others disagree and encourage academic debate, but among Christians there should be a tenor of brotherhood. To God be the glory that so much about the ancient civilizations has been discovered. God Bless each of you, Dr John G Leslie

The biblical geography alone as described in Genesis 13 should give enough credence to believe that Sodom may very well be located on the northern end of the Dead Sea and not the southeastern end. Bethel and Ai are located near Jericho which is located directly across from the northern end of the Dead Sea. Based on apparently where Abraham and Lot were located as they both viewed the “well watered” Jordan valley, they would have been viewing the north end of the Dead Sea. In fact, Genesis 13:11 reads that Lot “journeyed eastward.” There is no indication, at least in Genesis 13 that Lot traveled in a southern direction.

Since I wrote this 2013 article at the request of Hershel Shanks, a wealth of additional archaeological evidence has arisen in support of the identification of Tall el-Hammam as the ‘seed-bed’ of the Sodom narratives (depending on your perspective, either historical Sodom or ‘literary’ Sodom). Since the Genesis patriarchal lifespan numbers are honorific formulas (likely base-60) and not base-10 arithmetic values, they cannot assist in constructing a proper chronology for Abraham. This must be done via historical synchronisms and elements of cultural specificity. In no way does Abraham belong in the Intermediate Bronze Age or early MB1 as the hackneyed Ussher-style biblical chronologies suggest, at a time when none of the ‘cities’ mentioned in the Abrahamic narratives existed, including Jerusalem and Dan. The narrative belongs solely during MB2 on every line of evidence available. The destruction date-range of Tall el-Hammam/Sodom confirms this as well. Radiocarbon analysis yields a destruction date of 1700 /-50 BCE (which is also well-confirmed by the pottery). The geographical argument for Tall el-Hammam being Sodom is a lock at every turn. Those who don’t recognize this simply reveal their ineptitude in dealing with textual geographical data.
—Steven Collins, Director, Tall el-Hammam Excavation Project

I’m sorry, but when you attack the content of a person’s character rather than the contact of their argument, you disqualify yourself as a critic. Attacking a person’s character only goes to prove that the content of YOUR argument is weak. You hold steadfastly to the chronology of Archbishop Usher without fully analyzing the consequences of that position. If Usher’s dates are a correct interpretation of the meaning of the numbers in the text, then you place Abraham in a period of history in which Jerusalem/Salem did not exist, and the whole Melchizedek narrative falls apart.

I am the Subject Matter Expert for Archaeology and Assistant Professor at Liberty University and have been a square and field supervisor at Tall el-Hammam for over 10 years. I have researched and written extensively on the Cities of the Plain and Sodom for over 35 years. The site of Tall el-Hammam in my opinion is by far the best candidate for the site of Sodom, destroyed in the Middle Bronze Age on the Kikkar of the Jordan visible from the region of Ai. The Late Bronze Gap, observed by many archaeologists working in the Jordan Valley can be explained by the destruction event as described in the Bible.

Graves, David E. The Location of Sodom: Key Facts for Navigating the Maze of Arguments for the Location of the Cities of the Plain. Toronto: Electronic Christian Media, 2016.

Graves, David E. “Sodom And Salt in Their Ancient Near Eastern Cultural Context.” Near East Archaeological Society Bulletin 61 (2016): 15–32.

Others who support Tall el-Hammam include:
Geisler, Norman L., and Joseph M. Holden. The Popular Handbook of Archaeology and the Bible (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 2013), 70, 191, 202, 212–220, 383–87.
Robert A. Mullins is the Professor of archaeology and Old Testament at Azusa Pacific University.
James D. Tabor is the Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
Anson F. Rainey was the late (2011) Professor Emeritus of Ancient Near Eastern Cultures and Semitic Linguistics at Tel Aviv University.
Amahai Mazar is the Professor at the Institute of Archaeology of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. After his visit to the site in 2014.

See also Silva, Phillip J. The Destruction of Sodom: What We Have Learned from Tall El-Hammam and Its Neighbors. Albuquerque, N.M.: Trinity Southwest University Press, 2016.
———. “The Middle Bronze Age Civilization-Ending Destruction of the Middle Ghor.” Ph.D. diss., Trinity Southwest University, 2016.
Silva, Phillip J., and Steven Collins. “The Civilization-Ending 3.7KYrBP Kikkar Event: Archaeological Data, Sample Analyses, and Biblical Implications.” In Annual Meeting of the Near East Archaeological Society: Atlanta, Ga., 1–6. Albuquerque, N.M.: TSU Press, 2015.

BTW Bolen places the Patriarchs in the Early Bronze Age which few conservative archaeologist do. Even Bryant Wood places the Patriarchs in the Middle Bronze Age.

The site is so large that is can now be called a city state (62 acres, while Jerusalem and Jericho at the time were only 10 acres). Not much wonder Sodom was mentioned in the Ebla tables in the Early Bronze age trading with Sodom. All agree that Sodom existed in the Early Bronze age (Gen 10) the Question of importance is when was it destroyed (Middle Bronze Age Gen 13). The debate and research continues but people should not be so quick to dismiss this amazing site.

I meant to say “Bolen places the Patriarchs in the Intermediate Bronze Age (2166 BC)”


Evidence confirms location of biblical Sodom

Dr. Steven Collins

I revel when Dr. Steven Collins (now Director of the School of Archaeology, Veritas International University) returns each year from the Tall el-Hammam excavation in Jordan. It seems that after thirteen years at the site every trowel and shovel put in the dirt adds to the evidence of Tall el-Hammam as the Biblical site of Sodom. This year was no different.

But before I provide an update, let me jump back in history for our readers not attuned to Dr. Collins’ discovery, as set forth in his #1 bestselling book Discovering the City of Sodom (Simon & Schuster/Howard Books 2013), co-authored with Dr. Latayne Scott.

Several years ago Dr. Collins told me his interest in the location of Sodom began in 1996. Then, he was working on another excavation site but was also leading archeology tours in the Middle East.

It was on one of these trips that Prof. Collins began to question the traditional site of Sodom, what is known as the Southern Theory (attributing the site to the southern region of the Dead Sea).

Collins stated, “I began to read the text in Genesis 13-19, and realized that the traditional site did not align itself with the geographical profile described in the text.”

“Now let me say,” he continued, “that many scholars don’t have a high view of Scripture. Some even frown upon using biblical texts as a tool for location designation. Yet my philosophy is that the text is generally reliable and can—and should be—used, at bare minimum, as a basic guide for a geographical profile.”

“So when I read how the author of Genesis describes the area of Sodom and then looked at the area of the traditional site in the Southern region, I said, ‘this can not be the place. There are too many differences of description.’”

The geographical point at issue, according to Collins, is how the text in Genesis describes the region of the Kikkar, understood as “the disk of the Jordan,” usually mistranslated “plain of the Jordan.”

Dr. Collins states, “When the Bible uses the term ‘the Kikkar’, it is only referring to the roughly circular area immediately north of the Dead Sea. Kikkar strictly means ‘circle’ or ‘disk’. This region is the breadbasket of the area, full of freshwater and farmland. All of this is interesting to me because the ancient Semitic word kikkar can also mean ‘flat bread’, like a tortilla here in New Mexico.”

A main contention of Collins’ is that the traditional Southern Theory site of Sodom does not have the geographical parallels described in the text. Namely: 1) One can see the whole area from the foothills 2) it must be a well-watered place (described, “like Egypt”) 3) has a river running through it (the Jordan) and 4) must follow the travel route of Lot (who went east from Bethel and Ai, just above Jericho, to Sodom).

How Dr. Collins arrived at this conclusion involves years of research, excavations, and textual analysis with many colleagues, including Dr. Peter Briggs. Drs. Collins and Briggs developed a means to determine if an ancient text is a “true narrative” through a scientific methodology called “criterial screening.”

The finding? Genesis is reliable for geographical profiles, and therefore can be used to locate sites.

With this bit of knowledge, Dr. Collins set out on a course of discovery.

“When I first had the idea that the traditional site of Sodom (in the southern region of the Dead Sea) was wrong (based upon the geographical indicators), I began to think through the text, coming to conclusion that it was northeast of the Dead Sea.”

After hundreds of hours of research—in the U.S., Israel, and Jordan— Collins concluded that the site of Tall el-Hammam was the one.

“I came to this conclusion based upon its geographical location and the biblical text. In the Bible, Sodom was mentioned first in order therefore it must have been the largest and most prominent city in the area. We find that Scripture usually orders cities by prominence and size. With that bit of knowledge we choose the largest site.”

“As a matter of fact,” Collins continued, “Tall el-Hammam was the largest site by a huge margin.”

The current excavations reveal that Tall el-Hammam’s general area is at least 40 hectares (roughly 100 acres), which is huge by ancient Bronze Age standards.

I then ask Dr. Collins for some evidence.

“Well, to start with, the Tall el-Hammam site has twenty-five geographical indicators that align it with the description in Genesis. Compare this with something well known—like Jerusalem—that has only sixteen. Most other sites have only five or six, or less. So, the site has many more geographical ‘signs’ than any other Old Testament city. That’s truly amazing.

“Second, our findings—pottery, architecture, and destruction layers—fit the time frame profile. Meaning, we should expect to find items, like what we’re finding, from the Middle Bronze Age, the time of Abraham. This is exactly what we’re uncovering.”

“To our own expertise we continue to add internationally recognized scholars to analyze our data, such as the pottery. One such person is Dr. Robert Mullins, and then there are our colleagues from the Department of Antiquities in Jordan. Dr. Mullins is an expert in Bronze Age pottery, and there are many others as well. My ceramic expertise also covers the Bronze Age. Their conclusions on the matter reflect that our findings are correct.”

“Though we’re still digging and uncovering a plethora of material and artifacts, and much research still needs to be conducted, I feel that the evidence for this being the ancient city of Sodom is increasing by the day.”

With the story of the discovery in view, let’s now turn to recent updates from the excavation season that ended in March 2018. To get the information, I met with Dr. Collins over lunch, and later at the ARC (Archaeology Research Center), Trinity Southwest University’s archaeological laboratory. He gave me an overview on some of the artifacts.

Steve, when we met previously you let me know that you sent out some samples for radiocarbon testing. Did they arrive?

“Yes. It’s an ongoing effort, and expensive! The latest round of radiocarbon dates have arrived from Beta Analytic Labs. Numerous carbon samples from the MB2 palace level continue to confirm that the destruction date is 1700+/–50 BCE. In fact, every sample from the terminal destruction layer tested thus far confirms this date.”

How does this line up with the traditional understanding of the chronology and pottery?

“What I see in this are cracks forming in the traditional assumptions and conventional wisdom concerning Middle Bronze Age pottery, which will perhaps affect the dating schemes typically used by archaeologists to determine the difference between MB2 and what some scholars call MB3. In my mind, I’ve always rejected such a thing as MB3, seen by some as the final century or so (c. 1650-1550 BCE) of the Middle Bronze Age. A few scholars give MB3 as little as 50 years. Whether 50 or 100 years, I have a hard time holding to an archaeological sub-period that’s generally shorter than the uncertainty ranges of dating methods, particularly ceramics and radiocarbon.”

Have the pottery reading confirmed this?

“Yes. In our final pottery readings over the years, a number of diagnostic sherds from Tell el-Hammam have been called ‘late MB2 or likely MB3.’ I’ve always winced when that call came across the table. Even the pottery books (like the oldie-but-goodie by Ruth Amiran who didn’t use MB3 either) have certain forms given for MB1 (Amiran’s MB IIA pre-1900/1800 BCE) and MB2 (her MB IIB post-1900/1800 BCE) that we regularly find at Tell el-Hammam in the very same space, obviously being used at the same time. And these so-called MB3 sherds are found in the exact same context in the terminal MBA destruction stratum. And that stratum continues to date firmly to 1700+/–50 BCE! One possible impact of this may be a rethinking of the date of the terminal MBA destruction at Jericho across the river, which is assigned to MB3 by most archaeologists (including the current Italian-Palestinian expedition).”

Have others confirmed your findings?

Tall el-Hammam excavation in Jordan

“The similarity of our terminal MBA pottery and Jericho’s terminal MBA pottery has been noted by Dr. Bob Mullins (who anchors our third pottery reading each year). If this is true, then we may need to have some serious discussions with Dr. Lorenzo Nigro (who currently heads the Jericho excavations) about their MBA dating and site interpretation. It may turn out that the 3.7kaBP Event that destroyed Tall el-Hammam/Sodom and the other eastern Kikkar cities and towns may, in fact, have impacted Jericho as well. And thus, Jericho may not have any more so-called ‘MB3’ than Tall el-Hammam. This would shake a few things up, for sure!”

Are there any detractors or skeptics of your conclusions?

“A tiny minority of scholars (Bimson and Wood, mainly), in order to prop up their date for the Exodus and Conquest, have even suggested that Jericho’s MBA terminal destruction could be down-dated to around 1400 BCE (the end of LB1), and thus be associated with Joshua. The 14C evidence at Tall el-Hammam, in conjunction with Hammam’s and Jericho’s ceramics, makes this idea impossible. If anything, the terminal MBA date for both sites will be moved earlier, not later (not to mention the insurmountable historical problems created by down-dating Jericho’s MBA destruction).”

How did the ceramics study go this year?

“We had a great time at the 2018 Ceramiganza (the name given to the yearly pottery read). We read over a thousand diagnostic sherds from this past dig season, each representing a different vessel. It was very productive. The quality and variety of the pottery from the MBA palace confirms that Sodom was top-tier city, and that its king kept ‘common’ pottery out of his palace. It’s all special, even fancy, stuff. Not to mention that the interior palace walls are up to 1.5 meters thick. The palace is very large.”

If you were to summarize this year’s excavation for a lay person, what three important facets add weight to the fact that Tall el-Hammam is, indeed, Biblical Sodom?

“First, the evidence supporting this is beyond question, I think. The geography, the sheer size of the city, the dating of it—everything’s right. It fits the biblical text perfectly. As I scan the scholarship of identifying biblical sites, this is one of the most solid identifications every made. The few scholars who haven’t embraced this simply haven’t properly (or at all!) analyzed the wealth of data.

“Second, the research conducted by a team of scientists led by Dr. Phil Silva is providing the evidence that there was, indeed, an air burst event that destroyed the MB2 city. This event is clearly in line with the narrative described in Genesis 19 of a meteoric aerial fireball raining down on Sodom and Gomorrah.

“Third, our archeological excavation is providing strong evidence that corresponds to broader archeological findings in surrounding areas—pottery similarities and the like—allowing us to fine-tune a timeline of history, and therefore provide scholars with a clearer picture of probable events during patriarchal times. As an example of this last point, our research indicates that the Pharaoh of the Exodus was Tuthmosis IV—I’ve done a rigorous study of this. This can be extrapolated from the archeological, historical, and Biblical evidence we’re discovering, allowing us to create a timeline of events for the whole of the Pentateuch, especially the time from Abraham to Moses. We’ve published a timeline based on our research [1 and 2].”


Has The Biblical City Of Sodom Been Discovered?

Long thought by many to have been a mythical city, skeptics may just have to hold that thought as archaeologists believe the city may have finally been found thanks to the discovery of a site known as Tall el-Hammam.

The biblical story of Sodom tells of the city alongside with its twin city Gomorrah being destroyed by God because of the sinful ways of all the inhabitants.

Dating between 1540 and 3500BC, the ancient archaeological site resemblance appears to match the description of Sodom according to the bible, and would have been situated along bronze trade routes.

“Tall el-Hammam matches the description of the area where Sodom was located according to the Bible,” said archaeologist Steven Collins from Trinity Southwestern University in New Mexico. “So, I came to the conclusion that if one wanted to find Sodom, one should seek the largest city that existed in this area during the Bronze Age, in the time of Abraham.”

Researchers studying the site have also discovered evidence that the city was abandoned in the past due to a large unknown natural disaster, most likely an earthquake. Other experts, however, claim it may have been destroyed by an asteroid.

“It became an uninhabited wasteland for over 700 years but then, after those seven centuries, it started to flourish again – as indicated by the huge iron gate that leads into the city,” said Collins.


Jordan site may be biblical city of Sodom, claims Christian who believes Bible's history

A New Mexico archeologist told an audience at First Baptist Church on Sunday night that he believes he has found the biblical city of Sodom. According to the Book of Genesis in the Bible, God destroyed the city with fire and brimstone because of the inhabitants' evil behavior.

Steven Collins, dean of the College of Archaeology and Biblical History at Albuquerque's Trinity Southwest University, and his group spent several weeks last winter excavating Tall el-Hammam, a site in Jordan he believes fits the profile of Sodom. He has committed to working there for seven seasons.

Collins said most historians and archaeologists believe the stories of the early followers of Judaism, including the tale of Sodom's destruction, are myths.

"If that's true, they're basically saying our Bible is wrong," he said.

Operating on the belief that the Bible is true, he searched the Book of Genesis for clues to the city's location.


Sodom: Has Biblical City Of Sin Been Found?

The location of the original city of sin, Sodom - destroyed by fire and brimstone according to the Bible - may have been discovered in Jordan.

Archaeologists excavating the Tall el Hammam site say it was a major Bronze Age city-state and matches "every Sodom criterion".

Steven Collins and his team have been at the "monstrous" site since 2005 and have discovered palace structures, towers and formidable defences.

Sodom and the neighbouring city of Gomorrah were destroyed by God, according to the Book of Genesis, because their inhabitants were riddled by sin and depravity.

The final judgement was delivered after angels, disguised as men, were unable to find just 10 righteous people in the cities.

Mr Collins told Popular Archaeology: "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 10 times larger than all the other Bronze Age sites in the entire region."

The site, in the southern Jordan Valley, eight miles northeast of the Dead Sea, is marked out by a large mound that dominates the landscape and appears to have consisted of a lower city, and an upper city - where the rich and elite lived.

Researchers have found evidence of defensive walls 10m high and 5m thick, with a network of gates, towers and plazas.

Altogether, it is believed the lower defence structures rose about 30m from the surrounding terrain

They also say ramparts, built in the Middle Bronze Age, protected the privileged residents of the upper city from attack.

"It was a huge undertaking, requiring millions of bricks and, obviously, large numbers of labourers," Mr Collins told Popular Archaeology.

"It was an impressive and formidable defensive system protecting the residences of the wealthier citizens of the city, including the king's palace and related temples and administrative buildings."

The remains of a "Red Palace" in the upper city have been discovered, as well as a large complex further down.

However, life in the city appears to have come to a sudden halt near the end of the Middle Bronze Age and was all but abandoned for 700 years, say archaeologists.

It is hoped the ongoing excavations by the research team will help shed light on the mystery.


Biblical sin city Sodom FOUND in Jordan, claim archaeologists after decade-long dig

The ancient biblical city of sin Sodom may have been found in Jordan, a team of archaeologists claim.

A dig in the Middle Eastern country could have unearthed ruins from the notorious metropolis of vice.

Experts excavating the site, in Tall el Hammam, say they have discovered a Bronze Age city-state that matches "every Sodom criterion".

According to the book of Genesis, God consumed Sodom and neighbouring Gomorrah with fire and brimstone due to their resident&aposs depraved behaviour.

The names of the cities have since become bywords for sin and vice.

Steven Collins and his team have been digging at the huge site for a decade, and have found evidence of various palatial buildings.

He told Popular Archaeology : "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 10 times larger than all the other Bronze Age sites in the entire region."

The site is in the Jordan valley, close to the Dead Sea .

It appears to have consisted of an upper and lower city - where inhabitants would live according to their wealth.

The remains of defensive walls 10 metres high and five metres thick have been found

Some of the defense structures are thought to have towered 30 metres high.

Mr Collins added: "It was a huge undertaking, requiring millions of bricks and, obviously, large numbers of labourers.

"It was an impressive and formidable defensive system protecting the residences of the wealthier citizens of the city, including the king&aposs palace and related temples and administrative buildings."

The remains of a "Red Palace" in the upper city have been discovered.

Life in the city appears to have come to a sudden halt, and &aposSodom&apos appears to have been abandoned for 700 years.