Last edited: November 07, 2003


Sodom Back From the Dead

NewsPlanet, October 30, 1998

Are the lost cities erroneously associated with homosexuality hiding beneath the salty waters of the Dead Sea?

Although many Bible scholars maintain that the story of Sodom and Gomorrah is not about homosexuality at all, there’s no escaping centuries of tradition labeling gays as "sodomites." Having disappeared utterly perhaps 5,000 years ago, the two cities just may have been rediscovered on the floor of the appropriately salty Dead Sea. Bible scholar Michael Sanders thinks this could be the explanation of anomalies seen in satellite photos, and is organizing an expedition to get a closer look next year using a mini-submarine. The anomalies under some 1,200 feet of water look as if they might be buildings.

Pointing Sanders in what he believes is the right direction was the discovery more than 30 years ago of an ancient cemetery by the Dead Sea containing the remains of more than a half-million people, and the ensuing discovery of four other sites in the same area which also had massive burials. These cemeteries are more than 3,000 years old, and some archaeologists believe the sites relate to the five Biblical Cities of the Plain, of which Sodom and Gomorrah were two.

What was interesting to Sanders is that the area has long been so arid that it would be impossible for it to support anything like the population indicated by the gravesites. Even at the time the Bible story was written, the land in no way resembled its description as "well watered in every direction like the garden of the Lord" and as lush as the Nile delta. He believes that once the Jordan Valley was indeed verdant, but that an earthquake perhaps 5,000 years ago sent up an explosion of pitch, which caught fire. That might create a scene to match the verse, "Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire 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."

If that disaster in itself were not enough to account for the area’s desertification, the rising waters of the Dead Sea itself may have helped; the satellite photos seem to indicate its north end covering more area now than in the past. Sanders’ colleague geologist Rich Slater remarks that, given the preservative qualities of salt, "We might find that Sodom and Gomorrah are in pretty good condition."

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