Biblical Archaeology Review 6:5, September/October 1980

Have Sodom and Gomorrah Been Found?

In the past many scholars have regarded Sodom and Gomorrah—and the Biblical stories in which they appear—as mere legend. Now, however, two highly respected American archaeologists are about to propose that they may have found the remains of the ancient cities.

Walter E. Rast of Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, Indiana and R. Thomas Schaub of Indiana University of Pennsylvania, are excavating two sites near the eastern shore of the Dead Sea in Jordan which they believe are prime candidates for the Biblical cites destroyed because of their citizens’ wickedness.

The principal site, Bab edh-Dhra, lies less than one mile east of the Lisan, the tongue-like peninsula that protrudes into the Dead Sea on the eastern shore. Occupied during the Early Bronze Age (3rd millennium B.C.), Bab edh-Dhra overlooks the Dead Sea from a height of 550 feet; it was no doubt built on a bluff for defense purposes. The site consists of a town and a giant cemetery. One scholar has estimated that the cemetery is composed of more than 20,000 tombs in which over 500,000 people were buried together with over 3 million pottery vessels. A large rectangular structure found inside the town is thought to be a temple. The archaeologists have also uncovered the remains of what they believe to have been the altar associated with the temple.

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