Bab edh-Dhra (bāb al-dhrā' ) is the site of an Early Bronze Age city located near the Dead Sea, on the south bank of Wadi Kerak. Artifacts from Bab edh-Dhra are on display at Karak Archaeological Museum in Jordan; the Kelso Bible Lands Museum housed at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh, PA, USA; and the British Museum in London.
Possible causes of downfall
Some biblical scholars argue that this was the site of the biblical "Sodom". Some archaeologists disagree, claiming the village is too small, not in the designated geographical area and was not destroyed in the appropriate time frame. Other scholars have argued that, on closer examination to the biblical account, this does fit the geographical description of where Sodom would be located. They also argue that a set time frame for its destruction is not necessarily reliable. There are various hypotheses put forward to explain the causes of its downfall. Bitumen and petroleum deposits have been found in the area, which contain sulfur and natural gas (as such deposits normally do), and one theory suggests that a pocket of natural gas led to the incineration of the city.
Köfels Impact Event
The event was originally assumed to be a massive rockslide that occurred in the valley of Ötztal, Tirol, Austria, and discovered in the mid-19th century. A reevaluation of the evidence led researchers to believe that the valley may have been hit by a small asteroid in 3123 B.C.; the record of the observation of this event was carved into an Assyrian clay tablet known as the "Planisphere", which is believed to be a copy of the night diary of a Sumerian astronomer.
Some suspected the air burst of this asteroid to be behind the downfall of both Bab edh-Dhra and Numeira, but they were not yet built when the impact occurred. In fact, there only were shaft tombs present at Bab edh-Dhra dating to the Early Bronze 1A (EB 1A) period circa 3200-3100 B.C. that were used by nomads in the region. A small village area was found dating to the EB 1B period circa 3100-3000 B.C. However, the actual walled town at Bab edh-Dhra was not started until the EB II period beginning circa 3000 B.C., reached its greatest extent during the EB III period circa 2500 B.C. and lasted through the EB IV period ending circa 2100 B.C. The Numeira walled town was only occupied during the EB III period (ca. 2700-2200 B.C.). Thus, it is hard for these two towns to have been destroyed by an asteroid air burst in 3123 B.C. when they were not yet built and then lasted long after that date.
- Wood, Bryant G. (1999). "The Discovery of the Sin Cities of Sodom and Gomorrah". Bible and Spade 12: 66-88.
- Smith, Lewis. "Researchers: Asteroid Destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah". Fox News. Retrieved 16 July 2012.
- Jeff Medkeff, Martin Rundkvist. "Fire in the Sky". Retrieved 16 July 2012.
- R. Thomas Schaub and Walter E. Rast: Bab edh-Dhra': Excavations in the Cemetery Directed by Paul Lapp. Reports of the Expedition to the Dead Sea Plain, Jordan 1. Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns 1989. ISBN 978-0-931464-51-5
- Walter E. Rast and R. Thomas Schaub (Hrsg.): Bâb edh-Dhrâ'. Excavations at the Town Site (1975-1981). Reports of the Expedition to the Dead Sea Plain, Jordan 2. ISBN 978-1-57506-088-0
- Bab edh-Dhra The University of Melbourne Website
- Bab Edh Dhra D'Antiques 2 Website
- The Expedition to the Dead Sea Plain University of Notre Dame Website