Sodom and Gomorrah Update -- By: Bryant G. Wood

Journal: Bible and Spade (First Run)
Volume: BSP 12:1 (Winter 1983)
Article: Sodom and Gomorrah Update
Author: Bryant G. Wood

Sodom and Gomorrah Update

Bryant G. Wood

The 1981 field season at the sites of Bab edh-Dhra and Numeira southeast of the Dead Sea in Jordan brought to a close the first phase of the work of the Dead Sea Expedition. This work has been of particular interest to students of the Bible because of the identification of these sites as Sodom and Gomorrah, the “sin cities” of the Bible. (For earlier reports on the excavations and the identification of the sites, see Bible and Spade, Summer 1974, Winter 1977, Summer 1978 and Summer-Autumn 1980.) 1981 marked the fourth consecutive odd-year campaign of the expedition to investigate the region southeast of the Dead Sea. The next four years will be devoted to preparation of excavation reports, with long-range plans calling for a return to the area to investigate the other Early Bronze Age sites south of Numeira, in particular Safi and Feifa.

As with many archaeological excavations, the final season produced exciting and important results. The site of Bab edh-Dhra, thought to be biblical Sodom, was occupied throughout the Early Bronze Age, from about 3200 to 2200 B.C.1 We shall focus on the Early Bronze Age III (EB III) period, however, for this is the period to


be associated with the biblical stories concerning Sodom and Gomorrah and the Cities of the Plain in Genesis 13, 14, 18 and 19. This phase of the city’s life is dated by the excavators to between 2600 and 2350 B.C. Numeira, identified as Gomorrah, was occupied for only about a century at the end of the EB III period.

Bab edh-Dhra Townsite — Fortifications

The EB III period was the most prosperous period in the history of Bab edh-Dhra. At the beginning of this period, a fortification wall was built around the city. The wall is about 6.5 m. wide and was uniquely constructed in segments. This construction technique was undoubtedly intended to minimize earthquake damage. During the early seasons of excavation, the archaeologists sought in vain for the city gate. In the last two seasons, however, they found what they were looking for. Early in the EB III period a gateway at the southern end of the western wall provided access to the city. It opened out to the broad vista of the rich agricultural fields ...

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