Submerged Sodom & Gomorrah?
This week we are doing something completely different because of an
unusual set of circumstances.
One of our subscribers is D. Laing who is a geologist with a
background in seismic, gravimetric, geomorphic, evaporite, structural,
and depositional studies.
He was intrigued by my theory about the "Mirror" sites of the five
Cities of the Plain and believed he could use his expertise in
geomorphics and structural geology to check the theory. I encouraged him
on this and we began to chat about Djaharya and his use in the past of
satellite imagery. He promised to see if he could obtain usable
photographs of the site at which we believe the treasures of Solomon's
Temple were handed over to the Egyptian King Shishak. The site in the
Judean hills is a ruin which we believe is an Egyptian Temple built by
Ramesses III as described in the Harris Papyrus.
To cut a very long story short, D. Laing obtained a set of images of
our area and the Dead Sea, for the other theory regarding the Cities of
the Plain. On closer viewing we found at least three anomalies under the
sea, two of which look extremely interesting and might possibly be man
We therefore make a request to our subscribers and visitors regarding
these photographs. If they have been discussed before or identified,
please let us know. Dan is fascinated by the Eastern one, I think the
South Western one to be more startling. In any case, they may be natural
structures or recent artificial ones, but remember the Biblical account
states that there were five cities destroyed in this area and so far
nothing has been found.
Some of you might be interested to note that the Talmud states:-
"As for the cities themselves, however, they will be restored in
Messianic time" (Ginzberg: The Legends of the Jews, Vol.. 1 p. 256.
Mishnah Senhedrin 10.3 )"
Nor is it too farfetched in that Josephus in " Wars 4.8.4," states:-
"... it was consumed by thunderbolts; and in fact vestiges of the
divine fire AND FAINT TRACES OF FIVE CITIES ARE STILL VISIBLE."
(Thank you Charles DeLoach, author of "Giants" and "The Angel's War
Against God" for pointing this out)
I am attaching D. Laing's piece on my theory for your interest.
"...The Paradox of Sodom and Gomorrah
The Bible relates that Sodom and Gomorrah were located along with
three other cities in the Vale (valley) of Siddom, or the area of the
Genesis 14:1-3 "And it came to pass in the days of Amraphel king
of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal
king of nations; That these made war with Bera king of Sodom, and with
Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, and Shemeber king of
Zeboiim, and the king of Bela, which is Zoar. All these were joined
together in the vale of Siddim, which is the salt sea."
In an article in the September/October, 1979 edition of the Biblical
Archaeology Review titled "Have Sodom and Gomorrah Been Found?", the
author describes a site located on the edge of the Lisan peninsula which
extends out into the Dead Sea. This site, Bab edh Dhra, consists of a
town and a cemetery which contains the remains of some 500,000 people as
estimated by P. W. Lapp, archaeologist, who excavated the site between
1965 and 1967.
In the period of 1973 through 1979, four more sites were found by
archaeologists Walter Rast and Thomas Schaub which they believe are the
remaining four cities mentioned in Genesis 14:2. The five sites start
with Bab edh Dhra at the north, and include in order to the south,
Numeira, Safi, Feifa, and Khanazir. All five sites are located at the
heads of small wadis and have been dated to the early bronze age. One of
the sites, Safi, is identified in the Madaba Mosaic Map (a map found on
the floor of a 6th century AD Byzantium Church approximately 50 miles
away) as Zoar. Two other cemeteries of equal size to the one at Bab edh
Dhra have been uncovered at Feifa and Safi bringing the possible total
to some 1.5 million human remains. (Biblical Archaeological Review
Volume 6 No. 5).
What is unusual about these sites is that the cemeteries were in
existence (3200 BC and earlier) before the towns, and the extremely high
number of human remains buried there. The area is extremely arid, and at
present does not have the capability, even given present agricultural
technology, of supporting more than a small fraction of the population
that the numbers in the cemeteries indicate that it once did. The Bible
indicates that prior to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah the
climate may have been dramatically different, and depending on the
interpretation the Dead Sea either did not exist or was of a different
Genesis 13:10 "And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the
plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the Lord
destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the Lord, like the
land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar."
The site of Numeira was burned some time near the end of the Early
Bronze Age, and at this point it is assumed that the other four sites
were likewise destroyed at about this time as a result of conflicts with
an invading people as noted in numerous references. This would establish
a period of habitation for the five cities of approximately 3200 BC to
2350-2200 BC depending on which chart one is using. Uniquely, the
majority of burials are associated with the early portion of this period
and seem unrelated to the later destructions. Since it is to be expected
that the longer a settlement exists, the greater its population may
become, what possible explanation could there be for what has been
One theory that may explain these observations has been posited by
Mike Sanders, a Biblical scholar. He believes that the five settlements
represent relocation sites of the remnantal populations of five prior
cities originally located closer to or within the confines of the Dead
Sea. These, he believes, were destroyed due to some catastrophic
disaster based on the fact that the cemeteries were in use prior to the
establishment of the sites. He has therefore named these sites "the
mirror cities of the plain"
Quoting Mr. Sanders: "The archaeologists Rast and Schaub suggest
that these five cities could be the cities of the plain, but this theory
evokes more questions and answers. It must be noted for example that the
majority of the dead found at the site are dated 1,800 years before the
sites were finally destroyed according to the conventional chronology.
Who then were the dead and are there any other sites world-wide with
such vast charnel houses containing so many remains?"
"......dates the Exodus to the end of the early Bronze Age and the
final destruction of these sites coincides with the area-wide
catastrophe which occurred at that time with the mass migrations and
disruptions that followed."
"The vast cemeteries were therefore begun some 1,800 years earlier
using conventional dating figures (much less using the conventional
chronology) and were created as a result of the mass slaughter that took
place at the time of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah as recounted
in the Bible."
"The scenario probably involved the survivors of that holocaust;
those from the cities and the majority living outside the cities
dragging their dead and wounded to a safe haven, preferably near a fresh
water source (hence by a wadi). Those that died were buried in mass
graves BEFORE a settlement was established at Bab edh Dhra and Safi.
Gradually as the danger subsided and a semblance of normality returned,
the survivors broke up into settlement groups mirroring the original
towns of origin. Thus, those Sodomite survivors gathered together and
formed a new settlement as did the survivors of Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboim
and Bela. Fortunately there was a wadi complex somewhat nearby and each
settlement group managed to have their own access to fresh water at the
head of individual wadis."
"Thus the sites found by our modern archaeologists are in fact the
"mirror" cities of the plain."
While Mr. Sanders goes on to elaborate on a revisionist chronology,
he has in fact established the foundation for a credible theory of what
may have happened when one considers the fact that the cities were
located along an active rift system and given the Biblical descriptions
that the environment was altogether different (Genesis 13:10) and that
all five cities were perhaps located in a valley (Genesis 14:3). One
theory that may seem far fetched but possible is a sudden fault movement
could have resulted in a shift in elevation and an explosive expulsion
of pitch which could have been ignited giving rise to the story in
Genesis 19: 24, 25: "Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon
Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven; And he
overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of
the cities, and that which grew upon the ground."
While the description more resembles the results of a volcanic
eruption, since there is little evidence in the area for such an event
at the time, the scenario involving burning pitch may be just as valid.
If Mr. Sanders is right in his mirror city theory, the destruction of
the original cities of Sodom and Gomorrah may have occurred sometime
between 3200 to 2800 BC (Conventional Chronology) dependent on the
accuracy of the investigators and their charts.
An examination of a segment of a radar image created by special
imaging techniques coupled with a microwave emitter aboard one of the
Space Shuttle flights provides some interesting features for
consideration. A unique property of such images is the ability to
penetrate some distance through water to capture otherwise indiscernible
features. While the image only covers a portion of the Dead Sea, it
clearly indicates an underwater channel for the Jordan at its northern
most end as well as the rift zone along the Jordanian coast to the East.
In addition, there is an obvious resistive feature to the East off the
coast of Jordan. By no other process than resampling, we are able to
enlarge this small image to reveal a structure of surprising symmetry.
Could this be one of Mr. Sanders submerged cities? If it is a natural
formation then it is unusual in its obvious right angles and rectangular
symmetry. Rotating our original image and then overlaying the Madaba
Mosaic Map, it is evident that this anomaly is directly off shore to the
location identified in Greek as Safi.
Other satellite photos clearly indicate that at one time the Dead Sea
seems to have extended to the south.
It is just possible, lacking evidence to the contrary, that the Dead
Sea was located further to the South prior to 3200 BC, and that movement
along the rift in the vicinity of the Dead Sea resulted in the
cataclysmic destruction of the original cities as described by Mr.
Sanders due to a dramatic subsidence. The survivors could have then
moved to the positions at the wadis as postulated by Mr. Sanders and
where they would have reestablished their trade with Ebla as recorded in
the Ebla tablets that have been dated to 2500 BC.
A possible proof of this theory may be found in the cores that have
been taken in the northern end of the Dead Sea by petroleum and mineral
exploration companies. Due to seasonal variations in the sediment load
coupled with a similar process in the deposition of evaporitic minerals,
recognizable banding should be evident. If detailed examinations of
these cores were to reveal continual annual deposition to about 3200 BC
and terriginous (dry land) deposits thereafter, then Mr. Sanders theory
could then be considered to have been proven empirically. "
Michael S. Sanders
July 24th 1998
Post Script: Two other anomalies have been found further south and
will be posted next week.
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