A new article published in Nature Scientific Reports, investigates the destruction of Tall el-Hammam, one of the largest Bronze Age sites in the southern Jordan Valley, northeast of the Dead Sea. The authors present evidence from 15 seasons of excavation that the site was destroyed (ca. 1650 BC) by a cosmic airburst slightly larger than the famous airburst event at Tunguska, Russia in 1908. Ten potential destruction processes were considered, including volcanism, warfare, and tectonism, before concluding that only an airburst event satisfied the multiple lines of evidence. The authors write that the data “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 excavators at Tall el-Hammam believe it is the site of biblical Sodom, interpreting the chronological data in the Bible in an honorific/non-literal way. Other evangelical archaeologists and scholars have pointed out that the date of destruction (ca. 1650 +/- 50 yrs) does not match a straightforward reading of the chronological data in the Bible, which would place Abraham (ca. 2166-1991 BC) and the destruction of Sodom (ca. 2067 BC) at the end of the Early Bronze Age. Christianity Today interviewed Robert Mullins, a ceramic consultant with the Tall el-Hammam dig, who noted, a lot of 16th-century BC pottery sherds from the site, which may indicate the city was destroyed after the date of the airburst fireball described in the article.
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