The "Bible and Spade" Summer 1999 (Vol 12, No. 3) from the Associates for Biblical Research announces "The Discovery of the Sin Cities of Sodom and Gomorrah". The name of these two cities have long been by-words in our language for wickedness. And many scholars and archaeologists have long searched for the truth about these cities.
"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." Genesis 13:10 (KJV)
"And Lot went up out of Zoar, and dwelt in the mountain, and his two daughters with him: for he feared to dwell in Zoar: and he dwelt in a cave, he and his two daughters." Genesis 19:30 (KJV)
"And there went out the king of Sodom, and the king of Gomorrah, and the king of Admah, and the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (the same is Zoar;) and they joined battle with them in the vale of Siddim;" Genesis 14:10 (KJV)
The first most important source for locating Sodom and Gomorrah is the location of Zoar ( see more) and Lot's cave and is from the mosaic map on the floor of a church in Madaba, Jordan, known as the Madaba map and as shown in Fig 1 below.
Fig 2 below shows the excavation site of the known traditional location of the "Sanctuary of Lot" in the hills above the indicated site for Zoar.
One popular theory for a long time was that the Sodom and Gomorrah were located in the plain south of the Dead Sea and later covered by the waters as the Dead sea water level has changed over time. The level of the waters has receded in recent years and search of the area has located no evidence to verify this location. Searches starting in 1973 began to discover evidences of occupied cities in the area southeast of the Dead Sea, most of them located so as to obtain the benefit of water flow from the many Wadi's of the area. The map of the proposed locations is shown in Fig 3 below.
To date there has been located only evidence for two of the five Cities of the Plain, but they are proposing that the evidence is strong that the two most important cities of Sodom and Gomorrah have been found. That being the evidences found of destruction by fire at each site due to the layers of ash found in the digs by archaeologists. Bab edh-Dhra ( Sodom ) is the largest of the two sites, the 7 meter wide (23 feet) city wall enclosed 9-10 acres with gates located at the west and the northeast. The northeast gate had two flanking towers with massive stone and timber foundations, possibly the gate in which Lot sat (Genesis 19:1). Estimated population at the time of the destruction was between 600-1200. There was a large cemetery at Bab edh-Dhra ( Sodom ) and pottery evidence indicates that some of the residents of Numeira ( Gomorrah ) buried their dead in this cemetery. It appears that Numeria was in existence for only a short time, possibly less than 100 years. Paleobotany investigations indicated that a rich diversity of crops were grown in the area including barley, wheat, grapes, figs, lintels, flax, chickpeas, peas, broad beans, dates, and olives; an indicator that the area was "well watered" per Genesis 13:10.
Concerning the proposed cause of the destruction of the plain where Sodom and Gormooah were, they are proposing that it was the result of an earthquake that forced combustible material to the surface and into the atmosphere. Surveys have located bitumen, petroleum, natural gas and sulfur in the area. And to the east of the Dead Sea is a major fault line and these cities are located exactly on this fault line. See Fig 4 below.
The Scriptures say that Abraham looked and saw "the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace" and does not seem to mention a quaking, but does use the Hebrew term for "overturning" in Deuteronomy 29:23. Possibly this is an indication that the earthquake proposal is valid. Changes of elevation of up to 164 feet have been noted which caused a change in direction of the Wadi Numeria at the site, which is believed to be the event that caused the destruction. Also found were evidences that the residents hastily fled the site and buried skeletons of those who were caught in the destruction.
( The above three figures are from B&S Vol 20 No. 3 Summer 2007, p78-84 )
Conclusion: The author proposes that "... it is clear that the infamous cities of Sodom and Gomorrah have now been found." You may visit their web site at http://www.ChristianAnswers.net/ abr/ abrhome.html
LOCATION OF ZOAR
Deuteronomy 34"Gilead to Dan", if one reads this last phrase of verse one and stops they could assume that Dan was to the north of the territory of Gilead, but instead the city of Dan is almost directly north of Jericho and north of the territory of Naphtali, see the map below. North of Gilead is the non-Israelite kingdom of Bashan. So it seems better for understanding if one partitions it as "Gilead to Dan and all of Naphtali;"
1 And Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho. And Jehovah caused him to see all the land; Gilead to ( unto ) Dan;
2 and all Naphtali, and the land of Ephraim, and Manasseh, and all the land of Judah to the sea beyond ( unto the utmost sea );
3 and the Negeb, and the plain of the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, to ( unto ) Zoar.
4 And Jehovah said to him, This is the land which I have sworn to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, I will give it to your seed. I have caused you to see with your eyes, but you shall not cross over there." (Literal Translation by J.P. Green, Sr.)
Then if we look at verse three with the north as our pattern we will see that the location of Zoar should be to the south of the territory of the Negeb where settled by the tribe of Simeon and not directly to the south of "the plain of the valley of Jericho". And it should be directly to the south of Jericho and Dan.During the early Israelite settlement period the upper portion of the Negeb was settled by the tribe of Simeon which is not mentioned in the verses. Likewise the territory of the tribe of Dan is not mentioned in the north.
Therefore, the traditional location of Zoar as shown on the Madaba Map, and this location is disputed by many, is exactly where one would expect it to be according to this understanding of Deuteronomy 34:1-3.
Note: All three cities mentioned, Dan (Laish), Jericho, and Zoar (Bela) are ancient sites that predate Abraham.
Another indication that Sodom is to be found to the south of Jerusalem is in Ezekiel 16:46, for Ezekiel chapter 16 is addressed to "Thus saith the Lord God unto Jerusalem;"And your sister is Samaria, who lived with her daughters to the north (left hand) of you; and your younger sister, who lived to the south (right hand) of you, is Sodom with her daughters.
The city of Samaria is 34 miles to the north of Jerusalem, the site of Bah edh-Dhra ( Sodom ) is 40 miles southeast of Jerusalem and the site of Zoar is another 17 miles to the south.
Associates for Biblical Research announces "The Discovery of the Sin Cities of Sodom and Gomorrah". The name of these two cities have long been by-words in our language for wickedness, but now there is very strong evidence that the location of Biblical Sodom and Gomorrah has been found. Biblical Sodom Biblical Gomorrah Sodom and Gomorrah Sodom and Gomorrah found!