The damage of Sodom and Gomorrah: Earthquakes or Volcanoes?

by Sam Lemonick Thursday, June 7, 2018


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The surname of the Dead Sea’s mount Sodom comes from the biblical story that Sodom and also Gomorrah. The Old Testament states God ruined the cities through fire and “flaming smoke” for the sins of their inhabitants. God enabled Lot and also his family members to flee the destruction. Yet Lot’s mam disobeyed God’s orders and also was turned into a tower of salt. Mountain Sodom is made practically entirely of halite — sodium chloride — and among the formations close to the Dead Sea is a pillar recognized as Lot’s Wife.

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Geologists think nature may have helped inspire the story.

There space multiple scientific theories to define the occasions in the Bible. One possibility is the an earthquake in the seismically energetic Dead Sea region destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. In a sports of this idea, climate readjust may have brought a dryness to the area — defined as once-fertile but barren after ~ God’s damage — and an earthquake was the final blow that ruined an already crippled society. Another explanation is the an earthquake resulted in a flood that wiped the end the cities. One problem with every one of these principles is the they perform not entirely account for the Bible’s description of fire and brimstone.

For many, the fire raining from the sky and the “dense smoke increasing from the land, favor smoke indigenous a furnace” that Abraham sees in the aftermath, indicate a volcano was the culprit. But there’s little evidence of volcanic task near the Dead Sea. Therefore, some researchers think a an ext plausible place of Sodom and Gomorrah is southerly Syria, where an eruption did occur at a time as soon as the cities space thought to have actually existed, approximately the at an early stage or center Bronze Age.

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In Syria, southwest the Damascus, big basaltic flows day to in ~ a millennium of the presumed period of the biblical devastation of Sodom and also Gomorrah. The operation originated indigenous volcanoes along the Dead Sea transform fault system. Buried under one flow are two settlements with dwellings and also numerous pet bones. Big gravesites close to the lava are additionally consistent through a catastrophe. These findings and the paucity of historical evidence tying people to the Dead Sea area at this time make a Syrian place for Sodom and also Gomorrah much more likely. Scholars, however, currently think the story is an amalgamation of actual places and also occurrences quite than a solitary historical event.