Sodom and Gomorrah

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THE SEARCH FOR SODOM:
IS IT BAB EDH-DHRA OR TALL EL-HAMMAM?

Jill Toodle
Biblical Archaeology BIBL471_D01
April 7, 2013

Since the early 19th century archaeologists and Christian bible scholars have discovered a difference in archaeological and geographical evidence that supports a northern view of Sodom or a southern view of Sodom. The Southern site for Sodom is commonly referred to as the Bab edh-Dhra and the northern site for Sodom is referred to as the Tall el-Hammam. Since archaeologists have not uncovered exact evidence indicating a particular site as the biblical Sodom, the search for Sodom remains a mystery. To accurately investigate these sites and try to form a conclusion, key facts need to be revealed. The intention of this paper is to reveal certain facts pertaining to those areas. The specific facts are as follows; the site each position believes is Sodom, the evidence for destruction at both sites and how each site meets the criteria for the biblical location of Sodom. In addition this paper will compare and identify the strengths and weaknesses of each position. Two sites have been excavated as possible sites of the biblical Sodom. Which one is it? First the paper will focus on the southern site named Bab edh-Dhra, and then an analysis of the Tall el-Hammam will be done. Bab edh-Dhra is the excavated site along the Valley of Siddom, South of the Dead Sea. Many proponents of this site suggest that this site is located precisely on the eastern fault, which provides evidence for it’s destruction.[1] Furthermore, they indicate that the Bible historically supports this location in Genesis 13:10, Genesis 14:10 and Genesis 19:24. J. Penrose Harland explains that an overall agreement between the southern supporters and northern supporters is that the cities of the Plain are to be found in Ghor, or Valley of the Jordan and the Dead Sea. However, Harland states, “the evidence is preponderantly in favor of a location at the Southern end of the Dead Sea”, which is described as Bab edh-Dhra.[2] To better grasp this preponderant view the archaeological evidence for the destruction of Bab edh-Dhra should be revealed. Dr. Price is a prominent supporter of this site and he reveals that this site was never reoccupied after the Early Bronze date of 2300-2000 B.C.[3] This evidence supports the truth that after the destruction of Sodom by the wrath of God that this location was uninhabitable. Furthermore, significant ash layers were discovered, which supports Genesis 19: 24-28. Geologist Frederick Clapp surveyed Ghor, the southern end of the Dead Sea and discovered abundant amounts of asphalt, petroleum and natural gas. In addition, the smell of sulphur and ash deposits represented in Genesis 14:10 were present.[4] Since the Bible informs us that Sodom was destroyed during the time of the Patriarchs one important discovery needs to be made in regard to the date of the Patriarchs. The site of Bab edh-Dhra provides a date of the second millennium B.C. Dr. Price confirms this discovery and states, “Only a second millennium context will fit the type of inheritance practiced by the Patriarchs.[5] Many bible scholars and archaeologists have spent numerous hours uncovering the site of Bab edh-Dhra. At this point the criteria that causes Bab edh-Dhra to be considered as biblical Sodom is the followings; the Bible, the late Greek and Roman writers, from geology and topography, from hydrography, and archaeology.[6] Furthermore, Genesis 13:10 describes Sodom as “a well watered land like the land of Egypt.” Therefore, the Paleo-botanical studies done on and at the Bab edh-Dhra site reveal that the area has had a rich diversity of crops, meeting the criteria for a well-watered land.[7] Another huge discovery that causes Bab edh-Dhra to be recognized as Sodom is the reference in Genesis 19:1, where Lot is sitting at the city gate. Bab...
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