Introduction: Welcome to Expound our weekly worship and verse by verse study of the Bible. Our goal is to expand your knowledge of the truth of God as we explore the Word of God in a way that is interactive, enjoyable, and congregational.
Dr. Steven Collins: Wow! Makes me feel like dancing. What music, huh? It's good to be here tonight. I had a little trepidation about this particular presentation tonight as you'll see later. There's some subjects that are just difficult to talk about, and we're going to enter into some of that tonight, because there are elements about the story of Sodom, and the destruction of Sodom, and the reasons for the destruction of Sodom that are a little bit delicate to talk about in a mixed-audience setting. So we're going to try to do our best tonight.
But the reason we're going to do what we're going to do tonight is because I want to show you cleanly and clearly that the Bible is an historical text that describes real geography, real cultures, real people in such an authentic way that one can take an archaeological spade, dig into the ground, and actually find direct links and confirmation of archaeology to the biblical text. It is possible to do that. What I wanted to show you tonight is how tightly these links are together.
You'll be also one of the first groups of people to see some of these connections coming together, because some of this, some of the things I'm going to show you tonight are actually coming out of our excavation from this season which just closed a few weeks ago. So there are going to be some things in the presentation tonight that are not even in the book.
Now, what I will say is you should buy the book. [laughter] Because what I'm not going to cover tonight is why we think Sodom is northeast of the Dead Sea, while most scholars either thought it never existed at all or it was at the south end of the Dead Sea. Okay, and that's in the book.
Now, some of you have heard my presentations on this two, three, four times, and so you understand all of that. But you still need to buy the book because in the book for the very first time we have featured some of the scientific analysis (actually done at New Mexico Tech) of some of the high-heat materials or high-heat evidence that we find in and around the site of Sodom.
And we're not talking about cool temperatures like a couple thousand degrees, we're talking about several thousands of degrees kelvin, twelve to fifteen thousand degrees Fahrenheit minimum. Temperatures that cannot be produced anywhere on the face of the earth, period, geologically. Volcanic magma doesn't even come close to this. These are temperatures that can only be reached by cosmic impact events.
And, of course, the Bible specifically says that God took out Sodom and the Cities of the Plain with fire and gophrith, whatever that is. I think it's lightning; fire and lightning, or electromagnetic discharge out of the sky, out of the heavens. So we're not talking about anything but something that came from up, impacted down, and took out an entire civilization in the blink of an eye.
Now, what I want to show you tonight—oh, by the way, this little picture is important. It's important to Trinity Southwest University and our College of Archaeology because the gentleman—that's my wife standing next to me. I'm the handsome one you see, and Adeib Abu-Shmais on the right is Jordan's premier archaeologist. He's the top Jordanian archaeologist. He's absolutely amazing.
He's our frontline of ceramic reading; he reads all of our pottery. On our first pottery read, we have three of them, a triple-blind process to make sure we get the right analysis. And here he is holding his brand-new diploma, Doctor of Philosophy and Archaeology from Trinity Southwest University. [applause] So very exciting, and very open to ideas about the Bible. He is a Muslim, but one of our dear, dear friends in Jordan.
Now coming up behind him is his protégé. This is Jehad Haroun who is right now in the absence of a director general at the Department of Antiquities. He's actually running the department, and he has been involved with our dig for, well, really pretty much since the beginning. And Jehad who is a really spectacular archaeologist is now enrolled in Trinity Southwest University in a combination masters/doctoral program.
So we're so excited about being able to not only be involved in Jordan, but to give something to Jordan, to bring something to the archaeologist of Jordan—and that is, a positive experience regarding archaeology in the Bible. And we're very, very proud of this. So I just wanted to share that with you briefly.
Now, let me show you where Tall el-Hammam is, if you're not familiar with where we are. This is the Dead Sea, of course, and here's Jericho. Jericho is just northeast of the Dead Sea, about fourteen kilometers northeast of the Dead Sea. And on the other side are two major sites, each surrounded by multiple smaller cities. This is the first one; this is a place called Tall Nimrin.
Now tall, T-A-L-L or T-E-L-L, or in Israel in Hebrew T-E-L, tel, just simply means a mound of ruins. It's the mound created by the existence of building and destruction and abandonment, and again, building and destruction of cities one on top of the other over hundreds, even thousands of years. So in this area we have a city-state, and we believe it's a city-state, a large central city with multiple smaller cities and towns around it.
Just to the south of that we have another one anchored by Tall el Hammam, which is our excavation site, which is, in fact, the largest Bronze Age city, the largest and most enduring Bronze Age city in the entire Southern Levant. By Southern Levant I mean in all of Israel and Jordan. There's no bigger city; it is ten times bigger than Jerusalem, fourteen times bigger than Jericho in the same periods, that's how large it is.
So you know how prominent, for example, Jerusalem is in the story of Abraham? That's where Melchizedek is king. Melchizedek's city is ten times smaller than King Bera, King Bera's city of Sodom. So just get the balance there on how big and important this is. So this is where we are northeast of the Dead Sea. And if you read the book you'll know in gory detail why we put it northeast of the Dead Sea.
By the way, let me just tell you why people put it northeast of the Dead Sea—because that's where it is. [laughter] End of discussion, okay? Here's Tall el-Hammam; this is the upper tall. You really can't discern the lower tall from this vantage point, because the lower tall, the lower city is so big that it just looks like a big plain in and of itself.
So here we have the upper city sitting on top of the lower city. The upper city is a hundred feet higher than the lower city. The lower city is a hundred feet higher than the surrounding terrain. So it's an absolutely huge place that takes up a good square kilometer; huge footprint inside the city wall, inside the fortification, something like sixty-two acres. Now, this doesn't sound big by modern standards, but by Bronze Age standards, by the standards of life in the time of Abraham it is huge. In fact, it's in the top of the top.
Okay, now, here is an artist's—not just any artist's, this is Dr. Leen Ritmeyer's reconstruction drawing of the city of Sodom. This is an early one. This is just a general proposal. What's interesting about it, if you'll notice where the approach road is and where the gate is located—do you see it? Lock onto that with your eyes, because this drawing was done two years prior to the discovery of the gate.
And Leen just speculated where the gate was, because as he shrugs his shoulders and says, "Well, hey, I've only been doing this for thirty years—forty years, and it's all about symmetry, it's all about the water, it's all about . . . " And I'm just going, "Okay, Leen, okay." But ultimately when we actually discovered the gate, not this year, but the year before, last year in 2011 season, 2012 season—Guess where it turned out to be? Thank you, Leen. He didn't have to redraw the reconstruction drawing. It's exactly—the gate is actually where he drew it. And so we were eating lunch on it for five to six years and didn't even know it was under our feet.
Now, this is the fortification footprint. This big, wide thing, this kind of brownish thing you see surrounds the site. This is the rampart, the defensive rampart that surrounds the city. It's topped by a city wall. That's what you see in red. It's topped by a fortification wall. The fortifications are anywhere from one hundred to one hundred fifty feet thick. The city was impregnable.
We have no evidence in eight years of excavating, we have no evidence whatsoever that any army ever conquered this city. Now, the Bible does say in the fourteenth chapter of Genesis that Chedorlaomer attacked or laid siege to the city, but it doesn't say he destroyed it or did anything to it. I think King Bera the king of Sodom was so rich, he just paid him off and he went on his way.
So the city always remained intact until it was, of course, destroyed in Genesis, chapter 19. But we did a remarkable excavation this year at the base of the rampart, the protection rampart of the upper tall. And you see the upper tall which makes up that little elongated—let's just isolate it. Here's the upper tall, and we excavated it in this location.
Now, my staff was—and my wife too; my staff and my wife, who is also on my staff—This is why you get to be the director, because your staff can complain left and right, and you just kind of say, "Yeah, I understand," and you just go do what you want to anyway, [laughter] which is what I did.
And you know, I was thanking God that this turned out like it did, because, boy, they would be upset. Because we put a lot of people, a lot of time, and a lot of energy on this little place this season. And if nothing would have popped up, I would have come away with a lot of egg on my face. So, thankfully it turned out pretty good.
Now, this is what it looks like when you start. And some of you, in fact, many, many of you, I hope maybe twenty, thirty, fifty, one hundred of you will come excavate with us next season. H'm? Please go to our website www.digsodom.com (www.tallelhammam.com) look at being a volunteer; come excavate with us. It's not going to cost you very much.
In fact, we have a new hotel headquarters, and the cost of it for the entire season, meals, lodging, everything, field trips to Petra, places like that, is going to cost you around five hundred dollars a week. It's not bad, not bad. So come on, join us.
Now, this is what it looks like when you start. Look it, we just dug maybe about this deep, maybe eighteen inches or so, and by the end of the season looked like this. Massive walls here. You say, "Well, how big are those stones?" Well, there I am standing up in the corner. This is hundreds of cubit meters of dirt, I mean literally, and stones. It was really tough going. But look what we have; we have walls upon walls, and massive walls, and massive stones—all part of huge construction, much of it dating to the time of Abraham.
Here I am sitting on a face of a wall, just a retaining wall, which according to our architect Dr. Leen Ritmeyer is going to lead us up the hill to the upper city gate. Okay, I do believe him, since he's always right. We'll find the upper city gate at some point. That's going to be very exciting, and we'll be concentrating on that.
Now, I want to share with you some of the fortification system. Why is it important? By the way, this was number one on my list. It was number one when we first decided that this could very well be the city of Sodom. Number one thing I wanted to find was this gate. Genesis 19:1 says, "Lot sat in the gateway of Sodom."
That's what I wanted, that was number one, because you want to find something that's specifically mentioned in the Bible. Wow, that's the gate I want. I couldn't find it. We finally did find it and it was very, very exciting. But the fact of a gate means the city is fortified. What do you have a gate for if there's not a wall going around the city to go through? So it's fortified.
Here's Danette and I standing on top of the fortification of the upper tall, of the upper city. Now, there's also one of these around the lower city, but the lower city also has a city wall around it. But just this rampart, this is made out of earth, but not just earth, mudbricks, adobe; it's constructed of adobe bricks.
In fact, to construct the upper city rampart and the lower city defensive rampart took, we estimate, somewhere between one hundred fifty and two hundred million mudbricks, individually made, individually laid. That's a lot of money, that's a lot of time and energy, it's a lot of work, which is indicative of a vastly complex and wealthy society. So there you go.
Now, here's the rampart system, just a little cross section of it, and in this particular section where we're excavating it's thirty-three meters thick, one hundred feet thick, and it's actually preserved up to about 40 percent. So it's pretty remarkable.
You say, "Well, what happened to the other 60 percent? What happened to the other 60 percent on top of that?" The event. The event that destroyed the city. The shock wave was so powerful that it literally blew the city off its foundations, and so we'll look at that in minute.
But here's the fortification. You can see the earlier city wall. If you want a date for this, just call it the Early Bronze Age or Genesis, chapter 10. Sodom is mentioned in Genesis, chapter 10, and there's the city wall from that particular period. A new set of city walls and fortifications was constructed during the—let's say, two to three hundred years before the time of Abraham. And that's the city that was destroyed eventually in the time of Abraham, and that's the city wall.
That's an entrance into this massive tower. You can see the size of the diggers just for comparison of the size of the fortifications. They're really quite stunning. Here I am standing in this tower. The walls of this tower are ten feet thick, really quite incredible. Here it is from a different angle. As you can see, the city wall goes around the entire city, and you can see it coming around. Here's the later city wall with the fortification.
There's one penetration through the city wall into one of the outer towers. There's another outer tower right there that you enter into, and that turned out to be the main gateway. That's two meters wide, about a little over six feet, and you can walk right into the city from there. It's what we discovered behind that this season—now this was done last season. This winter just a few weeks ago we excavated inside the city wall to look at the gatehouse.
What does the entry building look like? When you go inside the city, what does it look like? I'll show you that in a minute, but there's also another story, important story, connected with that building that I want to show you. That's why I'm going to wait and do that in a little bit.
Here's some of our folks, myself, and some of our diggers just doing what we do, digging. And my wife is sitting there saying, "Yeah, like you really get down and dig." I know, she gets me every time on that. I just pose for the picture with a trowel and yeah. [laughter]
This is neat; right where they're digging right there, right in that area we have this. Now I want you to look at how close the surface is. The surface of the ground is just bare inches away from these fallen mudbricks. These bricks fell off the city gate when the city was destroyed by fire from the sky. And so here they are fallen right where—this is right where they hit, jumbled in a pile. And by the way, there should be hundreds and hundreds of tons of this stuff, but we just find a few bricks. What happened to the rest of it? Pulverized, turned into ash, blown away.
All right, now, this is my—Leen would call it—silly reconstruction drawing of what the southern defenses look like. We have many towers, and you can see the gateway there to the right. Here's Leen and I standing in the city gate. Now, this is when we first discovered it, when we first excavated it. You could see we're only about this deep, but that foundation, the stone foundation is showing up.
By the way, I don't have a close-up here, but what we discovered last season and this season is that some of the stones of the foundations are heat fractured. A stone foundation, a foundation stone that's sitting under twenty, thirty, forty feet of mudbrick superstructure—how does that get heat fractured? It's got to be—that's a violent event to say the least.
Now, here's Leen and I standing. Now, I'm standing to the left there, I'm standing in the chamber of the tower, the left gate tower. Leen is standing in the gate proper. Now, what I've done here in this little reconstruction is to take the gateway up from the actual foundation. So this is actually to scale just to show you the size of the gateway of Sodom from Genesis 19. There it is. This is to scale. You see Leen and I standing there, just little guys, and you can see the magnitude of the city gate.
Now, let me show you Leen's version of it. This is Leen's version of the city gate, and you can see the man standing in the gateway, which was probably an arched gateway made of mudbricks. So it's very, very powerful and strong. Dr. Ritmeyer, of course, is always examining things, and he comes out for like ten days at the end of the season. We're there for weeks and weeks; he comes out in ten days and draws everything. Not only that, he sees things we never saw, and he points things out to us, you know: "This is part of the gate system. This connects with that." And we're going, "Oh, okay." And then he comes up with these amazing drawings.
Now, I want to talk about an event, so let's look at a house. People have asked this, "Have you found Lot's house?" [laughter] How would you? With probably hundreds of houses, how would you decide which one was Lot's house?
However, the Bible does tell us quite a bit about this house, and it comes—look at this. They enter Lot's house as the angels—remember when the angels came, he prepared a meal for them. "Men from every part of the city of Sodom . . . surrounded the house. These are the kind of clues you follow. If you can surround the house, what does that tell you about the house? It's freestanding. It's freestanding; it's not a piece of a larger structure. So they can get around the entire perimeter.
So if you look at it, here are houses. In fact, these are right to the left gate. You go in the gate, turn left, and you come to this first palatial house. It has its own courtyard. In fact, if you look right here, here's the courtyard. This is not a wall, this is an excavation balk, but this is a wall, and you see the different rooms.
In fact, right over here is the exterior patio kitchen. So there's actually a cooking plaza or open area outside the house for preparing the meals. And so this kind of house you can actually walk around the entire perimeter of it. So, many of the houses in the city are actually freestanding.
Now, this is a remarkable picture. If you look at it carefully, of course you can see some walls, but what you can also see right there, to the right you see a foundation. This is a stone foundation. But do you see this? This is a wall. What happened to the wall? It fell over. Look what it's laying on. It's laying on solid black ash. So there was a huge burning, and this particular wall just collapsed right over on top of the burn. And so here's a little bit tighter look at it.
This is the terminal event. This is a Middle Bronze Age foundation from the time of Abraham. This is a wall right here that fell down sideways to the west and you can see that it's lying on black ash. So this is tremendous destruction, and this is just a little piece of the excavation. In fact, it's the kitchen of this house that we looked at. Here's a reconstruction drawing of it, and this is the kind of thing that we do for publication.
Here's Vic one of our supervisors holding a Middle Bronze Age bowl from the time of Abraham from the destruction layer. Dr. John Leslie, who I also believe is here tonight, holding a pot that he found over just on the surface actually, in a field that was plowed up. This is a Middle Bronze Age pot from the destruction that he found there. What's interesting, when they plow the fields there, they're plowing up the ash of Sodom's destruction, and planting in it, and it grows good bananas by the way.
This is a seal for rouletting designs onto probably ceremonial bread. Like make a flatbread like a tortilla, and roulette this across it, and it makes a design. And when you throw it on the griddle or you bake it, the design comes out very nicely. And they probably used this for ritual purposes.
Now, of course, we can talk about buildings, we found buildings and temples, this is all in book, temples. The palace of King Bera, we think we have the palace as well. That's a pretty remarkable palace. We call it the Red Palace because it's made of red mudbricks, but the mudbricks are turned red. How did they get red, they're just mudbricks? Fire, heat turns them red. So, a remarkable place.
We can talk about all those things, but you know what people really are interested in? Destruction. That's just the way we are; isn't it? We want to know about the destruction. How bad was it? How ugly did it get? Well, it got pretty ugly; let's look at it.
The Bible says, "Yahweh rained down a conflagration and lightning." Now, we translated "lightning" instead of "sulfur" because gophrith could mean sulfur, but when it comes out of the sky it's really talking about lightning. So, "He rained a great fire and lightning on Sodom and Gomorrah from Yahweh out of the heavens. He overthrew those cities, the entire Kikkar," the entire circle is what it means, "including those living in the cities and also all the vegetation of the land." The whole place was toasted.
In fact, we now know the footprint of that, the entire circle of the Jordan above the Dead Sea, about twenty miles in diameter from Jericho on one side to Tall el-Hammam, Sodom on the other—all of that area in a big circle was destroyed and, of course, nobody lived there for a very, very long time afterward. The destruction was either so horribly destructive or scary. It just frightened everyone in the area to death, so much so they wouldn't move back in for at least seven centuries. So here we have this massive destruction, this is a meter of black ash and destruction debris.
Now, that is on the upper tell. We have to dig through an Iron Age town from the time of King Solomon and afterward to get down to it. But in the upper tell we can actually get down to this massive ash and destruction deposit. In that we find some mudbricks that are fired so hard they ring like pottery when you hit them with a trowel. So it's very, very hot stuff.
We also find roofing material like this wattle and daub, which is fired like pottery. Now, that is just mud; this is just mud. How does mud survive with all the—you can actually see the little lines of the impressions of the reeds or the sticks in it; that's how well it's fired and preserved, really quite amazing.
But one of the most amazing things was that down in the Middle Bronze Age destruction layer here at the bottom of this trench we found this. Now, I've shown this before to you, but I bring it up again just for your interest because it is, the analysis of this thing, is actually in the book and some pictures from the electron microprobe that was done with glorified electron microscope and showing you the internal structure of this thing. But what we found is, this is a Middle Bronze Age storage jar, and on the outside of it we find that it's melted into glass.
Now, this is interesting because we have some features here, see this blackened stuff? This is carbon. Carbon doesn't melt. The rest of it is silica. It's from the kaolin. Kaolin is clay. That's just a silica composition of the clay itself melting into glass. But when it melts, the carbon just sort of separates out of it and so does the calcium. You see the little nodules of calcium separation in it. So it's very interesting that you have this.
Now, how hot does it have to be to produce this? You can see all of these pieces, the big one, a couple smaller pieces. In all of these pieces we have exactly the same thing happening; identical, physical properties. What's interesting about this is that that's a Middle Bronze Age pottery sherd from nine feet down in an excavation at Tall el-Hammam.
The material on the right is trinitite from ground zero of the first atomic bomb. How hot was the material of that pottery at Tall el Hammam? At least that of a nuclear explosion, okay. Now don't run out of here saying that Dr. Collins said that God toasted Sodom with a nuclear bomb. [laughter] It's not what happened, it's something else altogether, read the book. [laughter]
But the fact is that the temperature range is similar to that. It's very interesting stuff. So is this, this is impact glass, it is desert glass. By the way, both of these artifacts are sitting on the table over in the bookstore. There's a whole range of artifacts there from the destruction layer of Sodom. This will be the only time you get to see this. If you buy a book, I'll show it to you—just kidding. [laughter] No, it's there for you to look at, but it may be the last time you ever get to see it because these artifacts belong to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, and they will return to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in due time.
So they are here, they're visible, and not touchable, but visible. And Phil one of my staff members is over there and is going to take care of talking about that. But you can actually see this. This is desert glass; this is silica sand maybe banked up against a building, or just in the open, melted into glass by the same event that melted the pottery over at Sodom. This is found four kilometers to the south.
Here at Sodom in the ash matrix we have human bone scatter almost as if bodies were heated to great temperature and exploded. You find bits and pieces everywhere through some of the ash layer; so the destruction was not just of walls, and houses, gates, but of people as well. And people who played games; this is a game board. People who had toys, children who had toys; this is a wheel off a toy wagon. This is a bead from someone's jewelry, bronze bracelets and other items of jewelry; scarabs, personal seals, indicating ownership.
In the gate area we excavated several probes, and in those probes we found prodigious amounts of black ash, about eighteen inches worth with a consistency and weight of wheat flour. You know what a sack of wheat flour feels like; this is the consistency of this ash. It's dark and it's foreboding, because it really gives you a sense that something happened, and the ash fell back to the ground after the shock wave and the heat of the destruction to leave this amazing layer of ash around the city. It's pretty powerful stuff.
Now, just a couple of questions—this is a fact: as a result of our excavations we have determined that Bronze Age civilization on the eastern Jordan Disk with Tall el-Hammam as the center, the epicenter of this culture, flourished continuously for over two thousand five hundred years; it's a long time. How long has the United States been around? Continuously for over two thousand five hundred years as the dominant city in the region.
Another fact: this Bronze Age civilization, including Sodom, came to an abrupt termination toward the end of the Middle Bronze Age, the time of Abraham. And that area remained unoccupied for at least the next five centuries, nobody—this is the best watered agricultural land in the region. There are seven springs at Tall el-Hammam. There were two perennial rivers running around it, not to even mention the Jordan River that ran right through the middle of the disk of the Kikkar.
It was well watered, it's the best watered agricultural land in the region, yet, yet, for at least five centuries, now we know probably now around seven centuries, nobody came back there to build anything. It was a crossroads; nobody built there. It was well watered; still nobody built there. It was right in the center of what we call the Holy Land; yet, nobody built there. Why? The destruction must have been so horrific.
Here's the critical question to ask in the light of those two facts: Why did the best watered agricultural land in the region remain without cities and towns for the next five to seven centuries following its destruction in the time of Abraham? Something happened here that is so unusual, so horrific, and so traumatic that people stayed out for centuries, centuries, and centuries. I'm not going to answer the question for you, I would just say read the Book. No, not my book, read the Bible; that'll give you the story.
Now, so Tall el-Hammam as we always say is exactly in the right place, it's exactly in the right time frame, it's exactly possessing all the right stuff. It has everything that you need. So proving that this is biblical Sodom has really been—I don't want to say it's been easy, but it's been an exciting and very powerful thing to demonstrate the historical accuracy of the biblical text.
Now, I want to launch into something else. I've never talked about this before in public until just the last few days, because we're still working on the research. But I wanted to share it with you because the more we work on it—and a lot of this is being done by Kathleen Ritmeyer, Dr. Leen Ritmeyer's wife, who's an archaeologist in her own right; who's an excellent researcher. And she's the one that began to see these things and put us onto it. And the more we see of it, it's breathtaking, it's stunning, it's shocking, shocking.
I can't show you everything. I can't even show you some of the artifacts from Sodom, not in a mixed audience. But I'm going to try as delicately as I can to share with you the background of the story of the attempted abduction of the angels who came to the city of Sodom. That's a story that biblical commentators have not been able to explain.
They've tried to explain it; it just doesn't wash. It doesn't seem to fit a cultural pattern of the Near East, of the area of Canaan. It just seems to be sort of off the charts, something aberrant, something sort of that you can't connect with human activity anywhere in this region. And in fact, it probably can't be connected, but I'm going to show you a connection.
Now, what I call this is the Minoan connection. Now, where is that? Where is the Minoan civilization? The Minoan civilization is in Crete. This is during the Bronze Age. This is during the Patriarchal Period during the time of Abraham, the nineteenth, eighteenth, seventeenth centuries BC. Mycenae, the great city of Mycenae up on the Greek mainland is part of this cultural sphere as well, as are the Cretes, the Minoans on the island of Crete, and then you see Sodom over near the Dead Sea.
Now, we have to explain then that all of these things are connected. How are they connected? Something happened to bring the Mycenaean and Minoan cultures over, not only to the coast, just the coast, not Canaan proper, just some of the cities on the coast, and jumping all the way over to the Jordan Valley to the Cities of the Plain, Sodom and Gomorrah.
Now, let's read the Bible here. Here's what the text says: the angels, of course, had come to town to talk to Lot about leaving the city. They were going to warn him of the impending doom, so they came to his house. By the way, they were going to spend the night in the plaza of that gate. The plaza would have been right inside the gate that we saw. The angels said, "We're going to spend the night in the plaza." Lot warned them, he said, "Uh-uh. You're going to come to my house and be under my protection, because you're not going to spend the night in the open." There was a reason for that.
So they go to his house, and here's what happened: "Before they laid down," to go to sleep, "the men of the city, that is the men of Sodom surrounded the house, both young and old, representing all the people from every quarter of the city, and they called to Lot and they said to Lot, 'Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out so that we might have sexual relations with them,' "it's Genesis 19.
By the way, a lot of people connect that fact to the destruction of Sodom, but if you read the story, Sodom was already targeted for destruction before we ever find out anything about that. Okay? I'm sure it had something to do with it, but it wasn't just that.
Now, what I want to show you is some stunning archaeological evidence of a direct connection between Sodom and what is called—and this is the scholarly terminology for this—and the institutional paiderastia of the eighteenth to sixteenth century BC Minoan culture of Greece or Crete, which eventually migrated to Greece, and which is contemporaneous with the city of Sodom. There is a connection.
The connection this season started to emerge just like this: we're inside the gate, and the gatehouse from the time of Abraham and Lot is beginning to emerge from the soil. You can see it right here. You can see a wall here and here, and another piece of it here. It's just starting to come out of the soil, and eventually, even though some of it literally has been blown way, not only has the top, has the superstructure been blown way, the foundations have been blown away, or maybe robbed out by later people who came along and stole the stones to build their own houses.
But you can see here something interesting happening. Look at some of our excavators standing on top of column bases. They're standing on top of pillar bases. Now, what's so unusual about pillar bases? Here's Dr. Ritmeyer's drawing of one. Now, there's several phases of pillared buildings in that area one of them is the pillared gatehouse. This is the final gatehouse at the time of the destruction of Sodom. Look at it, you come in and you hang a right, and go out the right side.
Now, notice that the roof is upheld by columns, so you have a building, a gatehouse with columns, and then four of those columns are so equally spaced that we believe it functions as a light well okay to allow light to come in through the roof. So you don't roof that part of it; you leave that open. Now, what's interesting is this pillared building construction is not Canaanite, it does not belong to the Canaanite culture. This kind of architecture is Minoan style architecture, and it is completely unknown in Bronze Age Canaan. Then there's—so we have an architectural connection to the Minoan world.
We also have artistic connections to the Minoan world. This is a piece of pottery. That is a bull; it's a head of a bull. By the way, the bull is on the table. What's interesting about this bull? Do you notice the direction of the horns—are where? Down. Egyptian horns go up. Canaanite depictions of bull horns go up. Mesopotamian depiction of bull horns go up. Guess who has the only architectural depictions of bulls whose horns go down? The Minoans, the Mycenaeans.
Well, let's look at Minoan art. Here's our bull, I kind of separated him out, get him in the right orientation. Here's the Minoan bull from one of their pieces of pottery from the time of Abraham. See the significance? So these artistic motifs are unknown in Bronze Age Canaan. They cannot be found anywhere; there's nothing like it. You have to jump all the way to Crete to find this artistic motif.
Now we have architectural and artistic connection to the Minoan world. There are some other ones that are very interesting in light of this. In fact, some artifacts we excavated several years ago that now make sense in the light of this. Didn't make sense then; now make great sense.
But the let me summarize it for you: Strabo the Greek explorer scholar of the first century AD, and modern scholars, many, many of them, document the institutional paiderastia that formed the social structure of Minoan society during the Bronze Age.
Just to be delicate about it; what is that? That's man—boy love. Paiderastia was not an aberration in Minoan culture. It was, in fact, the fundamental societal structure and it was a requirement of adolescent male upbringing. Every single male in Minoan society grew up from twelve years old onward in a relationship, in a homosexual relationship with an older mentor; usually older by ten years.
Now, let's talk about it. In Minoan culture male relations with women, who often lived in separate houses or villages, was reserved for producing children—that was it. A male child was raised by his mother until age twelve when he was then given over to a twenty-two-year-old male called an erastes or "lover" in a formal intimate relationship for eight years. After which period the process repeated itself.
In other words, the now thirty-two-year-old male was thus eligible then to take a wife, while the now twenty-two-year-old (was twelve, now twenty-two) who's then called an ephebe a "graduate" of this process took his own twelve-year-old "beloved" or eromenos to start the process all over again, generation after generation after generation. This was the fundamental arrangement of Minoan society—shocking.
Cretan pederasty exhibited a unique feature. Now other people had the same—the Aegean region was sort of notorious for this, and even those great Spartans, remember the Spartan warriors? They adopted this model of society. But the Cretans were noted for a unique thing, and the unique thing was a form of ritual kidnapping.
Now the ritual kidnapping happened this way, and this was done by aristocrats, leaders of the city. So it might be the king, or his brother, or a priest, or someone at the temple. Could be—these are the wealthy people. They would see someone that they wanted, a young male, and they would send out a gang of their friends called "ritual abductors" to kidnap the desired eromenos, or beloved young man, okay, to kidnap him.
By the way, they would ask permission from the parents or the guardian so they would know ahead of time that the gang was coming in order to conduct the ritual kidnapping—this is the culture. Then it would be considered a cultural slap in the face to the erastes or the person who sent the gang to make the kidnapping if this accepted and honored cultural practice was refused. In other words, if the parents or the guardian said no, this would be like a cultural disaster, a slap in the face to the person who reached out in this fashion.
Are you starting to see the picture? The conduct of Minoan style pederastic society of Sodom, it was in Sodom, would have been abhorrent even to the indigenous Canaanites who themselves practiced child sacrifice alongside male and female ritual prostitution, which even the Israelites, by the way, adopted for much of their history. But they would have been horrified by this Minoan practice, which was resident in the city of Sodom.
Indeed, if you go back and read the text of Genesis 19, there was a vast, remember, outcry against the city of Sodom. By who, the Sodomites themselves? No, by the people of the cultures around them. It was a horrible outcry; the outcry against Sodom was great.
Here's what I think: knowing the eventual penchant of the Israelites themselves to go—what the Bible calls "whoring"—after the religious and cultural practices of Canaan's inhabitants, God decided they could deal with the Canaanites. Joshua could deal with the Canaanites, but not this. God, I think, decided to excise this Minoan cultural influence, this cancer from the land that he was giving to Abraham's descendants. He wanted it cut out, and he cut it out in a pretty dramatic way.
Now, I want you to go back now tonight, tomorrow, sometime, and read that story. Read that story again, because the men of the city of Sodom, what do they do? It was probably multiple gangs of ritual "kidnappers" who came to his door knocking. They didn't break the door down, they asked permission. "Where are these lads that came into you? Send them out to us so that we might have our way with them."
Lot says, "Uh-uh, it's not going to happen," closed the door. They got upset. Why? They had been slapped in the face. This was a cultural offense to refuse this activity, and so they got upset, they got angry. Then they start to try to force their way in and of course the angels took care of business, blinded them so they couldn't finish their deeds. So this is what's happening.
Now, the Sodom narrative carefully marks out a location for the Cities of the Plain north of the Dead Sea on the east side of the Jordan River where, in fact, our excavations have shown and continue to show that the ruins of significant Bronze Age cities exist exhibiting all the cultural influences described in the book of Genesis. Such a high degree of correspondence between text and ground cannot be a mere coincidence.
If in the past archaeologists and Bible scholars had taken the Sodom tales seriously (which many of them did not), they would have discovered the civilization in the land of the Kikkar a long time ago, and would have confirmed the historical accuracy, pinpoint accuracy, of the biblical text and the story of Sodom. But they didn't take the Bible seriously, and therefore, not only did they not find the city, but they forever left this gaping cultural backdrop out of the picture.
There's no way they could understand the story, so they said it was a myth, it was a legend. In fact, it does exist and in a big way. They didn't take the Bible seriously and they didn't find the city; we took it seriously and we did. The Bible and the trowel work remarkably well together, as I always say. Take the Bible seriously.
And I'll say this just one last little thing: Sodom rocked along for two thousand five hundred years, and God for his purposes decided to eliminate it because it had reached the end of any possible redemption. And Abraham himself argued with God for days, "Lord if there's fifty men, will you destroy it?" "No" "Lord, if there's just forty men, will you destroy it?" "No." "Lord, if there's just ten, will you destroy it?" "No. If you can find ten men in this city, young or old, who have not given themselves over to this Minoan cultural influence, I'll save the city."
And he couldn't find ten, and he couldn't even include his future sons-in-law who refused to leave the city because they themselves had been sucked in, bought into this cultural process. And God said, "It's over, it's over."
Men and women, God demonstrates in the archaeological record, and the science proves that when God says he's going to judge, when God sets his mind to judge, the judgment falls, and it falls in a catastrophic way. Western civilization is flirting with disaster. We are flirting with disaster, and when God decides that the future of this world can well do without the negatives growing up in our culture, so much so that it becomes irredeemable, he will judge, he will judge.
So let's take it seriously. Young people, you better take the Bible seriously. Don't think you can just live your life and do whatever you want. Don't think we can get away with living life as we want it to be in our own eyes. God creates, God creates us. He says, "You will do this, and you won't do this." And he does this for our benefit, for our joy, and our completion. And if we violate it, then disaster always rains, whether it's just in a personal life or the culture as a whole.
So pray for the redemption of Western civilization. Pray that the gospel goes far and wide. Pray that people respond, because judgment can come as quickly as it came for the city of Sodom and Gomorrah. Thank you for your time, we appreciate you.