Within the Center Bronze Age (about 3600 years in the past or roughly 1650 BCE), the town of Tall el-Hammam was ascendant.
Situated on excessive floor within the southern Jordan Valley, northeast of the Useless Sea, the settlement in its time had develop into the biggest repeatedly occupied Bronze Age metropolis within the southern Levant, having hosted early civilization for a number of thousand years. At the moment, it was 10 occasions bigger than Jerusalem and 5 occasions bigger than Jericho.
“It’s an extremely culturally vital space,” mentioned James Kennett, emeritus professor of earth science on the UC Santa Barbara. “A lot of the place the early cultural complexity of people developed is on this normal space.”
A favourite web site for archaeologists and biblical students, the mound hosts proof of tradition all the way in which from the Chalcolithic, or Copper Age, all compacted into layers because the extremely strategic settlement was constructed, destroyed, and rebuilt over millennia.
However there’s a 1.5-meter interval within the Center Bronze Age II stratum that caught the curiosity of some researchers, for its “extremely uncommon” supplies. Along with the particles one would anticipate from destruction by way of warfare and earthquakes, they discovered pottery shards with outer surfaces melted into glass, “bubbled” mudbrick, and partially melted constructing materials, all indications of an anomalously high-temperature occasion, a lot hotter than something the expertise of the time might produce.
“We noticed proof for temperatures higher than 2,000 levels Celsius,” mentioned Kennett, whose analysis group on the time occurred to have been constructing the case for an older cosmic airburst about 12,800 years in the past that triggered main widespread burning, climatic modifications and animal extinctions. The charred and melted supplies at Tall el-Hammam appeared acquainted, and a gaggle of researchers together with influence scientist Allen West and Kennett joined Trinity Southwest College biblical scholar Philip J. Silvia’s analysis effort to find out what occurred at this metropolis 3,650 years in the past.
Salt and Bone
“There’s proof of a giant cosmic airburst, near this metropolis referred to as Tall el-Hammam,” Kennett mentioned, of an explosion much like the Tunguska Occasion, a roughly 12-megaton airburst that occurred in 1908, when a 56-60-meter meteor pierced the Earth’s ambiance over the Jap Siberian Taiga.
The shock of the explosion over Tall el-Hammam was sufficient to stage the town, flattening the palace and surrounding partitions and mudbrick constructions, in keeping with the paper, and the distribution of bones indicated “excessive disarticulation and skeletal fragmentation in close by people.”
For Kennett, additional proof of the airburst was discovered by conducting many various sorts of analyses on soil and sediments from the essential layer. Tiny iron- and silica-rich spherules turned up of their evaluation, as did melted metals.
“I feel one of many most important discoveries is shocked quartz. These are sand grains containing cracks that kind solely below very excessive strain” Kennett mentioned of one in every of many traces of proof that time to a big airburst close to Tall el-Hammam. “Now we have shocked quartz from this layer, and which means there have been unimaginable pressures concerned to shock the quartz crystals— quartz is likely one of the hardest minerals; it’s very exhausting to shock.”
The airburst, in keeping with the paper, may clarify the “anomalously excessive concentrations of salt” discovered within the destruction layer — a median of 4% within the sediment and as excessive as 25% in some samples.
“The salt was thrown up as a result of excessive influence pressures,” Kennett mentioned, of the meteor that possible fragmented upon contact with the Earth’s ambiance. “And it could be that the influence partially hit the Useless Sea, which is wealthy in salt.” The native shores of the Useless Sea are additionally salt-rich so the influence might have redistributed these salt crystals far and broad — not simply at Tall el-Hammam, but additionally close by Inform es-Sultan (proposed because the biblical Jericho, which additionally underwent violent destruction on the similar time) and Tall-Nimrin (additionally then destroyed).
The high-salinity soil might have been chargeable for the so-called “Late Bronze Age Hole,” the researchers say, by which cities alongside the decrease Jordan Valley have been deserted, dropping the inhabitants from tens of hundreds to perhaps a number of hundred nomads. Nothing might develop in these previously fertile grounds, forcing individuals to go away the realm for hundreds of years. Proof for resettlement of Tall el-Hammam and close by communities seems once more within the Iron Age, roughly 600 years after the cities’ sudden devastation within the Bronze Age.
Hearth and Brimstone
Tall el-Hamman has been the main target of an ongoing debate as as to if it might be the biblical metropolis of Sodom, one of many two cities within the Previous Testomony Ebook of Genesis that have been destroyed by God for a way depraved they and their inhabitants had develop into. One denizen, Lot, is saved by two angels who instruct him to not look behind as they flee. Lot’s spouse, nevertheless, lingers and is become a pillar of salt. In the meantime, hearth and brimstone fell from the sky; a number of cities have been destroyed; thick smoke rose from the fires; metropolis inhabitants have been killed and space crops have been destroyed in what seems like an eyewitness account of a cosmic influence occasion. It’s a satisfying connection to make.
“All of the observations said in Genesis are in keeping with a cosmic airburst,” Kennett mentioned, “however there’s no scientific proof that this destroyed metropolis is certainly the Sodom of the Previous Testomony.” Nevertheless, the researchers mentioned, the catastrophe might have generated an oral custom that will have served because the inspiration for the written account within the guide of Genesis, in addition to the biblical account of the burning of Jericho within the Previous Testomony Ebook of Joshua. Find out more