After decades of excavations, researchers believe they have finally found the ruins of the Biblical city of Sodom.
Experts investigating the region of Tall el-Hammam in Jordan believe the remains of a ‘monstrous’ Bronze Age city match the Biblical description of the city destroyed by God.
Not only would the site have been the largest city in the region, as described in the Bible, it is situated to the east of the River Jordan, dates back to between 3500 and 1540 BC and is thought to have been suddenly abandoned.
The majority of references made about Sodom and Gomorah appear in the Book of Genesis.
The two locations were kingdoms situated on the Jordan River plain, just north of where the Dead Sea is now located, and are described in the bible as being plush, green and well-watered.
In particular, Sodom is one of the largest cities east of the Jordan referred to throughout the Book of Genesis and the New Testament.
It is described as being situated on a common trade route, and due to its size, it was said to have been heavily fortified with towers and tall, thick walls.
In the Bible, Sodom was said to have been destroyed by God after his angels failed to find righteous men within its walls.
By comparison, the site, at Tall el-Hamaam, dates back to between 3500 and 1540 BC.
It is said to be the largest city that would have existed in the region – between five and 10 times larger than other cities in the area – making it an obvious choice for the site.
Steven Collins from Trinity Southwestern University in New Mexico, who has led the project, told Popular Archaeology it was a ‘monstrous’ city compared to others in the area from the same period.
Little was known about the Bronze Age in the south of the Jordan River Valley, before excavations began in 2005, but the huge city points to a sophisticated society.
His team claim to have found evidence of a city that was expanded and given defences of thick walls and ramparts, including a 5.2-metre thick mudbrick wall of 10 metres high.
The city was continuously expanded and fortified, with evidence for thick walls and ramparts, including one wall that was a 17ft (5.2-metre) thick and 32ft (10 metres) high.
This wall featured gates, watchtowers and at least one roadway.
During the middle Bronze Age, this wall was replaced by a huge, 23ft-wide (7 metre) rampart with a flat top that doubled as a ring road around the city.
The team believes the city they have discovered must be Sodom because evidence suggests it thrives on the banks of the river Jordan and was an important trade route, as described in the Bible.
Further evidence to support the claims is that Tall el-Hamaam was suddenly deserted at some point time towards the end of the middle Bronze Age.
‘What we’ve got on our hands is an important city-state, major city-state that was, for all practical purposes, unknown to scholars before we started our project,’ said Collins.
‘Tall el-Hammam matches the description of the area where Sodom was located according to the Bible’ as the largest city of the fertile east Kikkar area.
‘So, I came to the conclusion that if one wanted to find Sodom, one should seek the largest city that existed in this area during the Bronze Age, in the time of Abraham.
‘When we explored the region, Tall el-Hammam was an obvious choice, as it was five to 10 times larger than the other Bronze Age cities throughout the region, even those found beyond Jordan.’
Mr Collins said: ‘We know very little about the Bronze Age in the south of the Jordan River Valley.
Most archaeological maps of the area were blank.