An American archeologist believes that two sites in Jordan where he and a colleague have performed excavations may have been the locations of Sodom and Gomorrah of biblical fame.
Walter Rast of Valparaiso University in Indiana told a gathering of biblical scholars here that he believes the remains that he and R. Thomas Schaub of Indiana University of Pennsylvania found in the southeast portion of the Dead Sea were indeed the cities whose names have become synonymous with debauchery.
Plausible historical evidence that Sodom and Gomorrah were actual places was discovered in 1976, when the Italian scholar Giovanni Pettinato said clay tablets found in the previously unknown Kingdom of Ebla, in what is now Syria, list Sodom and Gomorrah.
The two sites excavated by Rast and Schaub are nine miles apart and have the present-day names of Bab edh-Dhra and Numeira. Rast said that archeological evidence from these two sites indicates the cities flourished at "exactly the period of the Ebla tablets."
The 19th chapter of Genesis says Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by God with "fire and brimstone" for the sins of their citizens. Because it was assumed the sin was homosexuality, that practice acquired the name "sodomy."
Genesis says that Sodom and Gomorrah and three other "Cities of the Plain" were in the area of the Dead Sea. Most archeologists have assumed that if the cities existed, they are now under water at the south end of the sea.
Recently a lowered water level has facilitated a geological study of the area. As a result of this study, Rast, who with his colleague has been digging in Jordan since 1975, believes they could not have existed there.