There's evidence up to 65,000 lives were snuffed out in an instant by a meteor 3,700 years ago

Did you hear that? Picture: LucasFilm

  • An archaeology team has found evidence of an enormous blast of heat across a 500 sq km area.
  • The blast appears to have wiped out all life and structures where up to 65,000 people once lived.
  • The site is in the same region where Christian scholars claim once lay the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.

A meteor of literally Biblical proportions may have actually annihilated the ancient cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.

At an annual meeting of the American Schools of Oriental Research held in Denver, Colorado earlier this month, archaeologist Phillip Silvia reported finding evidence of a superheated air blast that may have snuffed out tens of thousands of lives in Middle Ghor, a 25km diameter circular plain directly north of the Dead Sea.

The Tall el-Hammam site is one candidate which, if you know your Genesis, may match up with the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Hence Christian websites are having a field day with headlines such as “Scientists admit bible account of sodom is accurate”.

If that’s so, then it’s the account of the manner in which Sodom was destroyed, not why. And even then, Silvia’s team’s findings are preliminary.

They are, however, fascinating, and more than a bit tragic.

If true, those tens of thousands of people died in an instant when something — possibly a meteor or comet bursting in the sky above — heated the air up to more than 4,000 degrees C.

Silvia’s team has found that pieces of pottery aged 3,700 years old were turned into glass. Zircon crystals in the glass “formed within one second”, according to Silvia — a process that requires at least 4,000C heat.

Radiocarbon dating indicated that mud-brick walls “suddenly disappeared … leaving only stone foundations.”

But parts of the pottery beneath the surface were unscathed, which points to the heat burst not lasting long.

So far, no craters have been found.

In the report, “The 3.7kaBP Middle Ghor Event: Catastrophic Termination of a Bronze Age Civilization” (Page 151), the team wrote the blast “in an instant, devastated approximately 500 km2 immediately north of the Dead Sea, not only wiping out 100 percent of the (cities) and towns, but also stripping agricultural soils from once-fertile fields”.

Tunguska. Picture: The Leonard Kulik Expedition, 1908

The other part to that which has bibliologists excited is evidence eastern Middle Ghor was then covered with “a super-heated brine of Dead Sea anhydride salts pushed over the landscape by the event’s frontal shock waves”.

In other words, the blast also caused a Dead Sea tsunami to cover the land.

Quotes from Genesis 19:24–25 note that “The Lord”, having “rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah”, also then overthrew “the vegetation in the land”.

“Based upon the archaeological evidence, it took at least 600 years to recover sufficiently from the soil destruction and contamination before civilization could again become established in the eastern Middle Ghor,” the report’s authors wrote.

Silvia said that at the time immediately preceding the event, between 40,000 to 60,000 people inhabited the plain.

There is enough modern evidence to show how destructive meteors can be even when they don’t hit the Earth.

Most recently, the Chelyabink blast in Russia which injured as many as 1,600 people.

And then there’s the Tunguska event, which occurred in Siberia in 1908, flattening 2,000 square km of trees.

In comparison, the Tall el-Hammam destruction zone was just 500 square km. Silvia says that suggest the airburst occurred relatively closer to the ground than the Tunguska explosion.

NOW WATCH: Tech Insider videos

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.