Researchers working in eastern Jordan have discovered what they believe are likely the ruins of the biblical city of Sodom, New Historian reports. The location, known as Tall el-Hammam, has been dated to the early-middle Bronze Age, between 3500 and 1400 B.C.
Most references to the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah occur in the Book of Genesis. Sodom is supposed to have been on the Jordan River plain, and the land around the city is described in the Bible as being green and well-watered.
The city was also fortified with thick walls and was supposedly one of the largest cities in its day, lying next to a central trade route, the Jordan River. The Bible tells how Sodom was destroyed by God with fire and brimstone for its sinful habits.
Researchers studying Tall el-Hammam reported that the site fits the description of a large city lying close to the Jordan River, and say that the size of the settlement would have magnified its importance as a trading hub. It is said to be 5 to 10 times larger than other cities in the area dating to the same period, according to Daily Mail.
Steven Collins from New Mexico's Trinity University, who led the expedition, told Popular Technology that the city is “monstrous” for its time period, and that it seems that the site was continuously expanded and fortified.
One other finding of the researchers, which also suggests that the site correspond to the biblical city, is that the site seems to have been suddenly deserted at some time toward the end of the middle Bronze Age. This is due to a sudden lack of artifacts compared to other settlements in the region, and the area remained deserted for about 700 years, according to Collins.
After that point, the site was repopulated, as evidenced by Iron Age city walls, houses, and other buildings. The researchers note that the scale of building in the Iron Age was much lower than during the site's Bronze Age heyday, leading them to believe that the city never regained its former status.