Tall el-Hammam

Location of Tall El-Hammam

I attended a lecture/presentation at SWBTS last night which was quite intriguing. Steve Collins presented the findings that his team has uncovered over the last five years at Tal El-Hammam.

To summarize, he suggests that the Bible is useful for observing geography of Palestine even if nothing else (though he thinks the bible is valuable for life and practice too). He remarked that even Israel Finkelstein has admitted as much. Then Collins established that the biblical record in Genesis presents Soddom as a city on the northeast side of the Dead Sea, which is contra W.F. Albright.

The site which he is excavating satisfies the geographical criteria for “Soddom”. Then he approached the stratiography of the site. Occupational levels exist from the Chalcolithic age through the Middle Bronze age, with a destruction layer there and then no occupation again until the Iron age 5 to 7 centuries later. Finally a Roman fort was built upon the Iron age structure (which has a 6 chambered gate…).

The destruction layer is quite interesting because they have found pottery with a superheated glass on it, which is uncharacteristic of the pottery from that particular era (It appeared to have a glaze, and there was no glaze on pottery in the Middle Bronze age there). When he had the ‘glaze’ examined, it turned out to be superheated glass – most similar to what is produced from a nuclear explosion or a meteor strike. The temperatures required to heat the glass to its present molecular structure would have been 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit. An event that hot would explain why there was ash in the destruction layer.

While Collins did not say outright “this is biblical Soddom”, he did appear to think it, and said that it satisfies the necessary criteria to fit with what the written source in Genesis presents – which is archeologist speak for “this is the biblical Soddom – but I haven’t convinced the other archeologists yet”.

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