Bab edh-Dhra

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Bab edh-Dhra EB mudbrick remains, view to NW (on left). West gate at Bab edh-Dhra, view to NW (on right).

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; The Gustav Jeeninga Museum of Bible and Near Eastern Studies in Anderson, IN, USA; and the British Museum in London.

Possible causes of downfall[edit]

Some biblical scholars argue that this was the site of "Sodom".[1] Other archaeologists disagree.[2] Unlike the neighboring ruins of Numeira, Bab edh-Dhra does not appear to have been destroyed by a significant fire.[3] Numeira and Bâb edh-Dhrâʿ were destroyed at different times, about 250 years apart. While the early conclusions of Rast and Schaub, that Bâb edh-Dhrâʿ and Numeira were both destroyed at approximately the same time (i.e., 2350–2067 BC), are often reported, it is now known that their individual destruction was separated by approximately two and a half centuries (250 years), with the destruction of Bâb edh-Dhrâʿ at ca. 2350 BC[4] and Numeira at ca. 2600 BC.[5] Instead, archaeological evidence suggests that the site was abandoned by its inhabitants, but also "suffered exposure to fire".[6] Other possible reasons this site may not be the biblical Sodom are because the village was too small (10 acres), not in the designated geographical area (Genesis 13:10-12) and did not exist in the appropriate time period. Bab Edh-Dhraʿ was destroyed in 2350 BC (Early Bronze period), while most biblical scholars believe that the Patriarchs lived in the Middle Bronze period (2166-1550 BC).[7] Supporters of the Southern Sodom theory 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.[8] Proponents of the Southern Sodom theory have put forward various hypotheses to explain the causes of its abandonment. Rast suggested an earthquake or an external attack.[9] 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. However, archaeologists who worked at the site found no evidence of a conflagration, or indeed, any sort of catastrophe to explain the sudden desertion of its inhabitants.

Köfels Impact Event[edit]

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.[10]

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.[11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kris J. Udd, “Bab Edh-Dhraʿ, Numeira, and the Biblical Patriarchs: A Chronological Study.” Ph.D. diss., Andrews University, 2011.
  2. ^ William F. Albright, “The Archæological Results of an Expedition to Moab and the Dead Sea,” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 14 (1924): 2–12; Melvin Grove Kyle and William F. Albright, “Results of the Archaeological Survey of the Ghor in Search for the Cities of the Plain,” Bibliotheca Sacra 81 (1924): 276–91; Steven Collins, “If You Thought You Knew the Location of Sodom and Gomorrah... Think Again,” Biblical Research Bulletin 7, no. 4 (2007): 1–6; David E. Graves, The Location of Sodom: Key Facts for Navigating the Maze of Arguments for the Location of the Cities of the Plain. Toronto, Ont.: Electronic Christian Media, 2016.
  3. ^ Walter E. Rast, “Bab Edh-Dhraʿ .” Edited by David Noel Freedman, Gary A. Herion, David F. Graf, and John David Pleins. Anchor Bible Dictionary (New York, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1996): 1:560.
  4. ^ Walter E. Rast, “Bronze Age Cities along the Dead Sea,” Archaeology 40, no. 1 (1987): 47; Walter E. Rast, “Bab Edh-Dhraʿ and the Origin of the Sodom Saga,” in Archaeology and Biblical Interpretation: Essays in Memory of D. Glenn Rose, ed. Leo G. Perdue, Lawrence E. Toombs, and Gary L. Johnson (Atlanta, Ga.: Knox, 1987), 185–201; Meredith S. Chesson and R. Thomas Schaub, “Life in the Earliest Walled Towns on the Dead Sea Plain: Numayra and Bab Edh-Dhraʿ,” in Crossing Jordan: North American Contributions to the Archaeology of Jordan, ed. Thomas Evan Levy et al. (London, U.K.: Equinox, 2007), 247.
  5. ^ Jack Donahue, “Geologic Reconstruction of Numeira,” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 255 (Summer 1984): 87; Michael David Coogan, “Numeira 1981,” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 255 (Summer 1984): 81; 1. Meredith S. Chesson and R. Thomas Schaub, “Life in the Earliest Walled Towns on the Dead Sea Plain: Numayra and Bab Edh-Dhraʿ,” in Crossing Jordan: North American Contributions to the Archaeology of Jordan, ed. Thomas Evan Levy et al. (London, U.K.: Equinox, 2007), 247.
  6. ^ Walter E. Rast, “Bab Edh-Dhraʿ and the Origin of the Sodom Saga.” In Archaeology and Biblical Interpretation: Essays in Memory of D. Glenn Rose, edited by Leo G. Perdue, Lawrence E. Toombs, and Gary L. Johnson, 185–201. Atlanta, Ga.: Knox, 1987. See also R. Thomas Schaub, and Walter E. Rast. The Southeastern Dead Sea Plain Expedition: An Interim Report of the 1977 Season. The Annual of the American Schools of Oriental Research 46. Boston, Mass.: American Schools of Oriental Research, 1979.
  7. ^ John J. Bimson, “Archaeological Data and the Dating of the Patriarchs” Essays on the Patriarchal Narratives. Leicester: IVP (1980). 59-92; J. Randall Price, The Stones Cry Out: What Archaeology Reveals About the Truth of the Bible (Eugene, Oreg.: Harvest House, 1997), 92; David E. Graves, The Location of Sodom: Key Facts for Navigating the Maze of Arguments for the Location of the Cities of the Plain (Toronto, Ont.: Electronic Christian Media, 2016), 109-110, 194-95.
  8. ^ Wood, Bryant G. (1999). "The Discovery of the Sin Cities of Sodom and Gomorrah". Bible and Spade. 12: 66–88. 
  9. ^ Walter E. Rast, “Bab Edh-Dhraʿ .” Edited by David Noel Freedman, Gary A. Herion, David F. Graf, and John David Pleins. Anchor Bible Dictionary (New York, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1996): 1:560.
  10. ^ Smith, Lewis. "Researchers: Asteroid Destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah". Fox News. Retrieved 16 July 2012. 
  11. ^ Jeff Medkeff, Martin Rundkvist. "Fire in the Sky". Retrieved 16 July 2012. 

Literature[edit]

  • Chesson, Meredith S., and R. Thomas Schaub. “Death and Dying on the Dead Sea Plain: Fifa, Al- Khanazir and Bab Adh-Dhra` Cemeteries.” In Crossing Jordan: North American Contributions to the Archaeology of Jordan, edited by Thomas Evan Levy, P. M. Michèle Daviau, Randall W. Younker, and May Shaer, 253–60. London, U.K.: Equinox, 2007.
  • Chesson, Meredith S., and R. Thomas Schaub. “Life in the Earliest Walled Towns on the Dead Sea Plain: Numayra and Bab Edh-Dhraʿ.” In Crossing Jordan: North American Contributions to the Archaeology of Jordan, edited by Thomas Evan Levy, P. M. Michèle Daviau, Randall W. Younker, and May Shaer, 245–52. London, U.K.: Equinox, 2007.
  • Graves, David E. The Location of Sodom: Key Facts for Navigating the Maze of Arguments for the Location of the Cities of the Plain. Toronto, Ont.: Electronic Christian Media, 2016.
  • Rast, Walter E. “Patterns of Settlement at Bab Edh-Dhraʿ.” In The Southeastern Dead Sea Plain Expedition: An Interim Report of the 1977 Season, edited by R. Thomas * Schaub and Walter E. Rast, 7–34. AASOR 46. Boston, Mass.: American Schools of Oriental Research, 1979.
  • Rast, Walter E.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. Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 2003. ISBN 978-1-57506-088-0
  • Rast, Walter E.and R. Thomas Schaub , eds. Bab Edh-Dhraʿ: Excavations in the Cemetery Directed by Paul W Lapp, 1965-1967. Reports of the Expedition to the Dead Sea Plain, Jordan 1. Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 1989.
  • Rast, Walter E.and R. Thomas Schaub “Survey of the Southeastern Plain of the Dead Sea, 1973.” Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan 19 (1974): 5–53, 175–85.
  • Rast, Walter E., R. Thomas Schaub, David W. McCreery, Jack Donahue, and Mark A. McConaughy. “Preliminary Report of the 1979 Expedition to the Dead Sea Plain, Jordan.” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 240 (1980): 21–61.
  • Schaub, R. Thomas. “Bab Edh-Dhraʿ.” In The New Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land , edited by Ephraim Stern, Ayelet Levinson-Gilboa, and Joseph Aviram, 1:130–36. Jerusalem: The Israel Exploration Society, 1993.
  • Schaub, R. Thomas. “Bab Edh-Dhraʿ.” In The Oxford Encyclopedia of Archaeology in the Near East, edited by Eric M. Meyers, 1:248–51. Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press, 1997.
  • Schaub, R. Thomas.“Southeast Dead Sea Plain.” In The Oxford Encyclopedia of Archaeology in the Near East, edited by Eric M. Meyers, 5:62–64. Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press, 1997.
  • Schaub, R. Thomas, and Walter E. Rast. “Preliminary Report of the 1981 Expedition to the Dead Sea Plain, Jordan.” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, no. 254 (1984): 35–60.
  • Schaub, R. Thomas, 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

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 31°15′14″N 35°32′03″E / 31.253928°N 35.534184°E / 31.253928; 35.534184