The destruction of sodom and gomorrah The book of genesis contains some of the most dramatic stories ever told.One of them has stood for thousands of years as a powerful lesson in the perils of wickedness:The story of sodom and gomorrah. According to the bible, the men of sodom 'were wicked, such sinners against the lord, he decided to destroy them'.God allowed lot, the one good man living there, to flee the town with his family, before North Face UK god showed his wrath.But lot's wife disobeyed god's warning not to look back towards sodom as she fled, and she was turned into a pillar of salt, where she stood. For the wicked people of sodom, not even that escape was open to them:Soon the lord showed his displeasure, and 'rained down fire and brimstone.He destroyed everyone living there and everything growing in the ground'. The story is certainly dramatic-But is it just fiction?There's no agreement among archaeologists, scientists and biblical scholars that sodom, and its sister town gomorrah, existed at all-Let alone that it came to a sudden and apocalyptic end. However, one man is convinced that sodom and gomorrah not only existed, but were also destroyed by a terrible natural apocalypse matching the description in the book of genesis.Graham harris is a retired geologist with a passion for solving ancient riddles-And the clues to this one, he says, are in the bible itself. The bible places sodom and gomorrah in the region of the dead sea, between what are now israel and jordan in the middle east.Harris spent a decade working in the area.He became convinced the conditions there were right for a huge earthquake that would trigger a massive landslide.So complete would be the destruction, the event would pass into folklore. Could science prove that harris's scenario might have happened?Professor lynne frostick, a geologist from hull university in england, and jonathan tubb from the North Face UK Sale british museum, decided to investigate just that. They travelled to the middle east to pursue their research, and their findings there enabled dr gopal madabhushi, at the cambridge university centrifuge laboratory back in england, to build an accurate scaled-Down model of the buildings in sodom, and the ground on which they stood.The whole area around the dead sea is now parched and barren, and the image of thriving towns is incongruous.But there was one point in the history of the region when a wetter climate meant the entire area could well have thrived-In the early bronze age, between 1800 bc and 2300 bc. Tubb excavated a site called tell es-Sa'idiyeh, north of the dead sea.He found evidence of an early olive oil factory, showing how sophisticated life had become, even in these ancient times.Tubb believes the early bronze age was the only time that towns matching the descriptions of sodom and gomorrah could have existed at all. So were there big earthquakes inThe early bronze age?According to american forensic anthropologist professor mike finnegan, the answer is yes.He has examined the skeletons of three men discovered atThe early bronze age site of numeira near the dead sea.From the way their bones were broken, he concluded that they were crushed to death-Possibly because an earthquake brought down a stone tower on top of them.Carbon dating put the date of the tower's beams at 2350 bc-The early bronze this page age. To establish the magnitude of any earthquakes that may have occurred in the area, professor lynne frostick consulted the israeli geologist shmuel marco. Marco showed her a rock face containing layers of chalk and rock.In one place, there was a huge fault line caused by an ancient earthquake.By measuring how far an individual layer slipped, marco could measure the size of the earthquake.The slippage was one metre and 75cm-Meaning an earthquake measuring at least a six, on the richter scale. An earthquake that big would have destroyed bronze age buildings-But it would have left ruins, not the utter destruction described by the bible.For harris's idea to be plausible, the earthquake would have had to trigger a landslide.This is possible when there is loosely packed ground that contains lots of water.Shaken up by an earthquake, the water can rush to the surface, and the ground can turn to water-A phenomenon called liquefaction.On a slope, this can become a landslide. Professor frostick believed the ground around the dead sea was capable of liquefying.However, the towns had to be built on ground that contained lots of water, so they must have been right on the water's edge. For harris's theory to stand up, he needed to explain why towns like sodom might have been built at the water's edge.He believes the answer is that some towns might have needed North Face:http://www.ladycavaliers.com/ to be built as close as possible to a source of asphalt, a naturally occurring substance that was invaluable in ancient times.The egyptians used asphalt to embalm their dead:Their word moumiah, 'mummy' to us, means asphalt. According to organic chemist arie niessenbaum, pure blocks of asphalt can be formed on the dead sea floor, and these can then float to the surface.This dead sea floating asphalt has been chemically fingerprinted and matched to asphalt contained in early bronze age artefacts found in egypt.That means there was an early bronze age trade in asphalt from the dead sea to egypt-And settlements may have existed where people collected it. After establishing that sodom and gomorrah may have been bronze age towns, that there was a reason why they might have been built on the edge of the dead sea, and that a strong ancient earthquake may have liquefied the ground, one important question remained.Would an earthquake of magnitude six have produced liquefaction that was powerful enough to carry away whole towns?Only the cambridge centrifuge experiment could provide the answer. Dr gopal madabhushi and his team built structures and ground that exactly replicated conditions in the dead sea in the early bronze age.They then put this model in the centrifuge to spin it, creating 50 times the force of gravity on the model.This made the model act in exactly the same way as if it were full size.The cambridge team then 'fired' an earthquake of strength six.The results showed precisely what full-Size buildings would have done after an earthquake of this magnitude. The results picked up by sensors in the model were remarkable.Read more. This page is best viewed in an up-To-Date web browser with style sheets(Css)Enabled.While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience.Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets(Css)If you are able to do so.