American biblical scholars and impactologists hypothesized that the city could have been destroyed by a meteorite.
A study by employees of the University of California at Santa Barbara, published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports, is reported by phys.org.
Tall el-Hammam was located in the Jordan Valley northeast of the Dead Sea. Civilization has existed here for several thousand years: during excavations, evidence of a culture dating back to the Copper Age was discovered. By 1650 BC. NS. the city was actively developing and was the largest permanently inhabited city in the southern Levant, 10 times larger than Jerusalem and five times Jericho.
However, among the cultural layers of Tall el-Hammam studied by archaeologists, there is one dating back to the Middle Bronze Age, which looks extremely unusual. In this 1.5-meter layer, scientists discovered shards of pottery, the surface of which turned into glass, and adobe bricks covered with bubbles. These are signs of an abnormally high temperature - over 2000 degrees Celsius - which was impossible to achieve using the technology of the time.
Scientists believe that 3650 years ago, a meteorite fell near the city, comparable in effect to the destruction of the Tunguska, the explosion power of which is estimated at 12 megatons. The blast wave was enough to raze all the palaces and adobe huts of Tall el Hammam to the ground. The hypothesis is supported by the location of the found human remains, demonstrating "extreme dismemberment and fragmentation of the skeleton," as well as analysis of soil and sediment: they revealed tiny balls rich in iron and silicon, and molten metals.
The blast wave can also explain the abnormally high concentrations of salt found in the layer: probably, the impact partially fell on the Dead Sea, which is very rich in salt, and the crystals scattered far around. High concentrations of salt are found not only in Tall el-Hammam, but also in other neighboring cities, also destroyed - and Tall-Nimrin and Tell-es-Sultan. By the way, the latter is considered by many to be the prototype of the biblical Jericho.
The high salinity of the soils could be the reason that in the late Bronze Age the cities along the lower course of the Jordan River were abandoned, and the population decreased from tens of thousands to several hundred nomads. The inability to grow something on these once fertile lands forced people to leave. The return of people and life to Tall el-Hammam and neighboring cities happened only 600 years after the sudden destruction.
Tall el Hamman is one of those cities in which historians see a possible prototype of the Old Testament Sodom, destroyed by God in order to punish the inhabitants who fell into vices. The biblical description is very similar to a picture of a blow from space: fire and brimstone fall from the sky; many cities have been destroyed; the inhabitants of the city were killed, and their crops were destroyed; "Smoke rises from the ground like smoke from a stove." Probably, a catastrophic meteorite impact could give rise to oral legends, and those - serve as a source of inspiration for the story described in the Book of Genesis. But so far this hypothesis has not been proven.