Newsweek (Link) - Katherine Hignett (November 22, 2018)
An asteroid that burst in a searing aerial explosion may have destroyed the Bronze Age city of Tall el-Hammam 3,700 years ago, archaeologists reported Saturday.
The city, which lies in the Middle Ghor region of the Jordan Valley, is considered a plausible site for the biblical city of Sodom by some researchers. But this conclusion is hotly debated within the field.
The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by God for their sinful behavior, according to the Christian Bible.
Scientists presented their preliminary findings at the annual meeting of the American Schools of Oriental Research in Denver, Colorado.
Excavations and radiocarbon dating at Tall el-Hammam suggested most of its mud-brick walls vanished about 3,700 years ago. It’s thought that several Middle Ghor sites were inhabited for 2,500 years or more before the proposed impact.
Minerals that suddenly crystallized in blistering heat support the concept, archaeologist Phillip Silvia, of Christian institution Trinity Southwest University in Albuquerque, told the conference. Silvia and his colleagues have been excavating the city for more than a decade, Science News stated.
The enormous blast “not only [wiped] out 100% of the Middle Bronze Age cities and towns, but also [stripped] agricultural soils from once-fertile fields,” researchers wrote in an abstract. Shockwaves may have pushed super hot briney water from the Dead Sea over the east of the Middle Ghor, they added.
Researchers suspect people only returned to the region 600 to 700 years after the blast that likely wiped out settlements in a 15-mile-wide area north of the Dead Sea in today’s Jordan, Science News reported.
The outer layer of some pottery from the time period had apparently melted into glass, the publication added. Pottery also revealed evidence of tiny mineral grains that pelted Tall el-Hammam after being whipped into the skies by high winds.
In other recent archaeological news, teams in Egypt have uncovered exciting finds like the 3,500-year-old skeleton of a heavily pregnant woman, a sphinx statue, an enormous structure with an adjoining room for religious rituals, a grave site filled with some 800 tombs and ancient figural tattoos on 5,000-year-old mummies.
In recent months, researchers around the world have discovered what could be 2,000 year-old rice wine in China, the remains of a sacrificial llama at a 3,000 year old tomb in Peru and a board game hidden in a secret chamber below a medieval castle in Russia. †