“The description in Genesis of the destruction of an urban center in the Dead Sea area is consistent with having been an eyewitness account of a cosmic airburst,” researchers concluded.
A “cosmic airburst” obliterated a Middle-Bronze-Age city northeast of the Dead Sea approximately 3,600 years ago, an event which may have been recorded as the biblical account of the destruction of Sodom, according to research published last week in the journal Scientific Reports.
The report was written by a group of 21 co-authors including archaeologists, geologists, geochemists, geomorphologists, mineralogists, paleobotanists, sedimentologists, cosmic-impact experts, and medical doctors.
Examining evidence from 15 years of archeological excavations at the site of the destroyed city, known as Tall el-Hammam, the authors concluded that the “only plausible formation mechanism” that can account for the city’s unique destruction is the tremendous detonation of an incoming space rock.
The site’s 1.5-meter-thick carbon-and-ash-rich destruction layer contains materials such as shocked quartz, melted pottery and mudbricks, diamond-like carbon, soot, melted plaster, carbonized pieces of wooden beams, charred grain, and fragments of human bones.
“The data also suggest an airburst occurred a few kilometers SW of Tall el-Hammam causing, in rapid succession, a high-temperature thermal pulse from the fireball that melted exposed materials, including roofing clay, mudbricks, and pottery. This was followed by a high-temperature, hypervelocity blast wave that demolished and pulverized mudbrick walls across the city, leveling the city, and causing extensive human mortality,” the authors said.
According to the report, 15 other cities and over 100 smaller villages were simultaneously abandoned and remained largely uninhabited for some 300–600 years.
The event also distributed salt across the region, severely limiting agricultural activity.
“The description in Genesis of the destruction of an urban center in the Dead Sea area is consistent with having been an eyewitness account of a cosmic airburst, e.g., (i) stones fell from the sky; (ii) fire came down from the sky; (iii) thick smoke rose from the fires; (iv) a major city was devastated; (v) city inhabitants were killed; and (vi) area crops were destroyed,” said the authors.
The report places the destruction of Tall el-Hammam in approximately the year 1650 BCE.
In comparison, Rabbi Mattis Kantor, author of Codex Judaica, places the destruction of Sodom in the year 1713 BCE.
According to chapter 19 of the biblical book of Genesis, “The Lord rained upon Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven. And he overthrew those cities, and the entire plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and the vegetation of the ground.”
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