Published: 2018-11-27 09:44
Last Updated: 2018-11-27 09:56
Preliminary results of a US study indicated that a large explosion in the sky obliterated the cities and agricultural settlements of the northern Dead Sea 3,700 years ago, the location of the people of Lot as mentioned in the Quran or what is known as the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah in the Old Testament.
Philip Silvia, an archaeologist at the Trinity Southwest University, said that a huge blast from a meteor which burst into pieces instantly destroyed a civilization that lived in a 25 km circular plain called the Middle Ghor, according to radiocarbon dating, and minerals unearthed which appear to have instantly crystallized at high temperatures.
The archaeologist and his colleagues also believe that this incident pushed the Dead Sea salt to cover once cultivable farming land, and that people did not return to the area for about 600 or 700 years.
Excavations conducted at five large sites in the Middle Ghor in Jordan indicate that the area was inhabited for at least 2,500 years, until a sudden mass collapse at the end of the Bronze Age.
Land surveys identified 120 smaller settlements believed to have been exposed to extreme heat and winds.
Silvia said an estimated 40,000 to 65,000 people were living in the middle of the Jordan Valley before the catastrophe.
The strongest evidence of the destruction from a meteor explosion at low altitudes is the city of Tal al-Hammam, south of Balqa, where history shows that the mud walls of almost all the structures have suddenly disappeared about 3,700 years ago, leaving only the stone foundations.
The outer layers of many pottery fragments from the same period show signs of melting into glass. The crystals in these glass layers formed instantly at very high temperatures, close to the sun's temperature, Silvia said. The strong winds caused small spherical metal grains to rain down on Tal al-Hammam, the archaeologist said, adding that the research team found these Zircon crystals on pottery fragments.
The findings of the archaeological team are the result of 13 years of exploration and have been reported at the annual meeting of the American Schools of Oriental Research on November 17, 2018.