Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Friday 24 September |
The Blessed Virgin Mary—Our Lady of Walsingham
home iconArt & Culture
line break icon

Scientists suggest biblical Sodom destroyed by meteoric explosion


Public Domain

J-P Mauro - published on 12/06/18

A meteor can cause just as much destruction when it explodes before impact.

For over 13 years a team of researchers from Trinity Southwest University in Albuquerque have been excavating the site of Tall el-Hammam, in the Jordan Valley, a site where many believe the biblical city of Sodom once stood. Investigating the disappearance of a Bronze Age civilization along the north side of the Dead Sea some 3,700 years ago, team leader Archaeologist Phillip J. Silvia believes the destruction of the fabled city was due to a powerful airburst from a meteor colliding with Earth’s atmosphere.

An airburst is created when a bolide — an extremely bright meteor — explodes within our atmosphere, creating a fireball that can be brighter than a full moon. When a meteor explodes before it reaches the ground, it can cause vast destruction to the area below, without leaving the tell-tale enormous craters of impact.

The team presented samples from their excavation at the annual meeting of the American Schools of Oriental Research last month. The samples revealed that an extremely hot, explosive event leveled some 200 square miles in and around the Dead Sea.

Forbes has an excerpt from the conference presentation in which the team noted the lasting affects of such an airburst:

“… not only wiping out 100 percent of the Middle Bronze Age cities and towns, but also stripping agricultural soils from once-fertile fields.”

They go on to suggest that the resulting shockwave could have covered the once fertile region with “a super-heated brine of Dead Sea anhydride salts.” This could account for the archaeological evidence that shows it took nearly 600 years for civilization to return to the area, as the soil would have been useless for agriculture.

The evidence found likens the event to the infamous Tunguska incident in 1908, in which a fireball in the sky preceded an explosion that leveled a swath of Siberian forest. The case of Tunguska mirrors Sodom in that researchers only began examining the site long after the events of the explosion, leaving very little evidence to study.

Another, much smaller, airburst was recorded over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk in 2013, which, although small, was strong enough to blow out thousands of windows of baffled residents.

Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
Cecilia Pigg
7 Ways the saints can help you sleep better at night
Philip Kosloski
An alternative Hail Mary to Our Lady of Sorrows
Our Lady of La Salette
Philip Kosloski
How Our Lady of La Salette can give us hope in darkness
Philip Kosloski
Pray this Psalm when you successfully recover from an illness
Philip Kosloski
Why J.R.R. Tolkien loved to attend daily Mass
Domitille Farret d'Astiès
Attacked with acid as a baby, Anmol Rodriguez overcomes and inspi...
Aid to the Church in Need
What happens when a million children pray the Rosary?
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.