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Meteor destroyed ancient city, likely inspired Bible tale of Sodom, study finds

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An ancient civilization in the Dead Sea area was wiped out by an apparent “airburst” meteor explosion with the force of a nuclear weapon that destroyed cities and salted the earth some 3,600 years ago, leaving it uninhabitable for centuries, scientists said in a study published this week, and postulated it could have inspired the biblical account of the destruction of Sodom.

The findings from the years-long study by a multi-disciplinary team of scientists at Jordan’s Tall el-Hammam Excavation Project were published on Monday in Nature Scientific Reports, an online peer-reviewed journal.

The evidence of widespread sudden death and destruction that collapsed buildings, melted pottery, and left behind a barren, charred landscape, led to the conclusion that the cities and surrounding settlements were destroyed by an airburst larger than the 1908 explosion over Tunguska, Russia, where a  meteor detonated with 1,000 times more energy than the Hiroshima atomic bomb.

The findings help solve the mystery of why one of the most productive agricultural regions that supported tens of thousands of people for more than 3,000 years, suddenly died and remained barren for several hundred years.

It also possibly offers a source to the biblical account of the destruction of the city of Sodom that was described in Genesis 19:24–25: “Then the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah — from the Lord out of the heavens. Thus He overthrew those cities and the entire plain, including all those living in the cities — and also the vegetation in the land.”

According to the bible, God decided to destroy Sodom due the wickedness of its inhabitants.

The study notes that there is ongoing debate as to whether Tall el-Hammam could be the biblical city of Sodom, saying that question is “beyond the scope of this investigation.”

“Nevertheless, we consider whether oral traditions about the destruction of this urban city by a cosmic object might be the source of the written version of Sodom in Genesis. We also consider whether the details recounted in Genesis are a reasonable match for the known details of a cosmic impact event,” the study says, concluding it was likely.

“The description in Genesis of the destruction of........

© The Times of Israel

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