New research finds that a powerful airburst from a meteor colliding with the atmosphere may have wiped out a Bronze Age civilization along the north side of the Dead Sea approximately 3,700 years ago. While the findings come from the excavation of the Tall el-Hammam archaeological site in Jordan, many believe that the same place was once known as Sodom.
The foot of Mount Sodom, near the plain where the Biblical city of the same name may have been destroyed.
Archaeologist Phillip J. Silvia of Trinity Southwest University in Albuquerque has been working with a team that has been excavating the site for over 13 years and presented their report at the annual meeting of the American Schools of Oriental Research in November 2018.
Samples from the site show that an extremely hot, explosive event leveled an area of almost 200 square miles including the Middle Ghor - a circular plain to the north of the Dead Sea.
"...not only wiping out 100 percent of the Middle Bronze Age cities and towns, but also stripping agricultural soils from once-fertile fields," reads the abstract from the conference presentation.
The researchers theorize that the intense shockwaves from the blast may have also covered the area "with a super-heated brine of Dead Sea anhydride salts."
The team also says that archaeological evidence shows it took at least six centuries for the region to recover and for civilization to return, thanks to the contamination and destruction of the soil.
Archaeologists may be able to answer some of the big questions behind the story of Sodom, including whether it really existed, where it was, and what actually destroyed it.