An archaeological team with New Mexico’s Trinity Southwest University believe they have found the lost city of Sodom mentioned in the Book of Genesis.
The city along with Gomorrah was destroyed when God poured down fire and brimstone from the sky.
The archaeological team began excavation at the site in 2005 and discovered a huge ancient city dating between 3500 BC to 2350 BC. The city was discovered North East of the Dead sea and described as being on a well-watered plain which fits the Biblical description of the city’s location.
In an interview with Popular Archaeology, lead archaeologist Steven Collins said:
“Tall el-Hamman seemed to match every Sodom criterion demanded by the text. Theorizing, on the basis of the Sodom texts, that Sodom was the largest of the Kikkar (the Jordan Disk or well-watered plain’ in the Biblical text) cities east of 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 Bronze Age at the time of Abraham and Lot.
Located on the banks of the Jordan River provided it a natural trade route which is also referenced in the Bible.
According to the team the city was massive. Its walls were 17 feet thick (5.2 meters) and 32 feet high (10 meters). It was made from millions of bricks and would have been an incredible undertaking. This wall was later expanded into a 23 feet wide rampant flattened on top that probably served as a ring road that circled the city.
The rich and the famous lived inside this central area of the city.
As the city expanded outside the original wall, its citizens built a second wall. It was slightly smaller only 4 meters or 12 feet thick and was built with more traditional methods using stone.
Collins used the word “monstrous” to describe the size of the city which was five to 10 times larger than its nearby neighbors.
Yet, despite its size, the city was suddenly abandoned as noted by the sudden disappearance of artifacts at the end of the Bronze age and their re-appearance about 700 years later when people began moving back in. A huge reconstruction of the city took place at this time.
According to the Biblical record God judged the city because of its sin. Sodom along with Gomorrah are first mention in Genesis 10:19 shortly after the flood suggesting an ancient past. And in fact the archaeological record shows this.
Prior to its destruction by God, the archaeological team found Sodom had been hit by earthquakes and rebuilt several times by its inhabitants. However, when God judged it, the site was abandoned for several centuries.
Genesis 18 states that three angels visited the patriarch Abraham to tell him about the impending judgement coming on Sodom and Gomorrah.
In a strange passage (Genesis 18: 16-33), Abraham negotiates with God to spare the city because his nephew Lot and family were living there. Abraham asked God if He would judge the city if there were 50 righteous living in the city. God said he wouldn’t.
Abraham haggled God down to 10 righteous and then stopped, because he probably felt Lot and his extended family would make up the necessary 10 people to stave off judgement.
However, it was not enough. This suggests that Lot and his family had been compromised because of the city’s sin, leaving some to wonder if the city was ultimately judged not because of the sin of the people, but rather because of the sin of the faithful.
When two of the three angels went to Sodom, the other probably visited Gomorrah, they met Lot sitting at the gates of the city.
When the two angels decided to sleep in the main square, the Bible records that the men of the city wanted to have sex with the two angels. Lot dragged the angels into his house and offered the crowd his daughters.
At this point, the angels struck the men with blindness and warned Lot and his family, including his daughters who were married, to flee the city.
The next day God judged Sodom by pouring down fire from the sky killing everyone who hadn’t fled. The whole area including Gomorrah was devastated:
24 Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomor′rah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven; 25 and he overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. (Genesis 19:24-25 NASV)
Though some believe God judged Sodom because of homosexuality, Ezekiel states:
49 Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, surfeit of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. (Ezekiel 16:49 NASV)