Welcome to Calvary Albuquerque.
We pursue the God who is passionately pursuing a lost world. We do this with one another through worship, by the word to the world.
Tonight, we're going to talk about why Sodom matters. But before we jump into that, I want to go into a little bit of a review. How many of you-- I know some of you have because I recognize a lot of faces. How many of you have heard me do a past presentation on Sodom? Good. How many have not? OK, a few more nots than haves.
So for you folks who have not, I'm going to do a little bit of a quick review. We're just going to walk through it and enjoy it together. So let me get to the first slide here. This is the one you really need. This one, Digsodom.com. That's easy to remember, isn't it? It's really tallelhammam.com, but nobody can ever remember that, so we use this one.
Its a little easier. Digsodom.com, that gets you to the website. Website's a little squirrelly right now because they're working on it. We're having to update it with a lot of new stuff. So if some things and features on there don't work, don't worry. Give it a few weeks and it'll be ready.
The next one you need as well. This will get you on the update list. We do an update list, an update every month, twice a month, four times a month during the year.
But during the excavation, during the eight weeks of the excavation, we sent out some photos, what's happening on the dig that day. And we do it every single day with a little bit of commentary so you can follow the excavation at Sodom moment by moment, literally through the entire excavation season. It's a lot of fun.
So if you'll just-- your smartphone or your stupid phone will do it. Just text 22828 and follow the instructions. Put in your email address. That'll put you on the email update list.
If you don't have a copy of this, you need one. You can order it on Amazon. It is available now in paperback. You can still get the hardback version of it. I think maybe they have some in the bookstore here at Parchments. If you can't get, that you can [AUDIO OUT]
[INAUDIBLE]. It walks you step by step by step through the archaeological process. And it is very exciting to do that.
The next one, there we go. All right. We're going to do a little bit of a review. Because frankly, what you really need in your life-- and I always bring this up when I speak-- is that when a lull comes to your life, or things get a little samey, things get a little monotonous, what you really, really need is a geographical fix.
You need some geography in your life. And so tonight, we're going to do a little bit of geography. Because if you're not familiar with what we're talking about in terms of the location of biblical Sodom, then you need to get up to speed on that.
And then, we're going to walk you into some new discoveries. I want to show you some interesting things and I want to take you a little bit beyond biblical Sodom to a couple of other discoveries that we've made in the same area that are very important.
By the way, we're entering into our 12th dig season in 2017. Wow. It doesn't seem quite that long. Its been a long haul. We've gotten a lot older, a lot balder. A lot of things happen in 12 years, but it's been very exciting. And it's been exciting to have Calvary Chapel Albuquerque with us for the whole ride on this thing.
Well, why is Sodom important? One of the reasons why Sodom is important is because there are a lot of scholars, a lot of people in the world who would love to get rid of this, who would love to dismiss this as a collection of myths and legends that can't be trusted, something that has no value for the modern world.
We're in a battle for the Bible. And in this battle for the Bible, there are some things, some places, some issues on which we need to fight back. And biblical archeology can take us there on some of these issues, and this is one of them.
So the existence of Sodom and the Cities of the Plain is a good test case for the historical accuracy of the Bible for at least three reasons. One, most scholars doubt that Sodom and Gomorrah ever existed. They completely dismissed the story out of hand.
Second, those who do believe that Sodom and Gomorrah existed, the more conservative Bible scholars, have generally searched in vain on the wrong end of the Dead Sea, on the south end of the Dead Sea, and have never found anything that scholars could remotely have confidence in as biblical Sodom. This reinforces the position of the skeptics.
So if you have the wrong idea about where Sodom is located, and you insist on it, and we go in, look there and find nothing, that gives fuel to the debate on the side of the skeptics because there's nothing there to support that view. So since that's been the traditional view all along, scholars have just dismissed the Bible at that point.
And by the way, after its destruction, Sodom became a metaphor throughout the rest of scripture for the wrath of God, for the judgment of God, for the wrath of God. It goes throughout the remainder of the Old Testament, it goes throughout the remainder of the New Testament.
It's found in all the Gospels. It's found in the apostle Paul. It's found in Peter, Second Peter. It's found in the book of Jude. And it's also referred to in the book of Revelation.
So Sodom becomes a very consistent historical metaphor for the wrath of God and the fact that God's statements of judgment-- I almost said threats. God doesn't make threats. When God decrees judgment, it will happen. It will happen in His time and in His way, but it will happen.
So if we could get it in the right place and prove that it actually exists, that would help this situation. Well, there's a third reason. If a legitimate scientific excavation could find the Cities of the Plain and biblical Sodom amongst them, it would be a huge confirmation of the historicity of the Bible.
And so I think these are three good reasons. In fact, I had someone recently come up to me and say, you know, I became a Christian because I heard what you said about Sodom, and I went and I read some of your books, and I checked it out, and I came to believe in the Bible. So it can have impact.
And so this is not just a fun exercise. This is just not something that we do because we like it or we're interested in it. The bottom line is if Sodom is real and we can demonstrate that it was destroyed in a manner as the Bible describes it, then we have a very good reason to take the Bible seriously and to take God seriously.
So there are some impacts to this. Well, in about 12 years of doing this, we think we've finally set the record straight. And it does take a while. By the way, it takes between 30 and 40 years for archaeological discoveries to find their way into the biblical commentaries and literature.
So some people keep reminding me that by the time this process plays out, I will be with Jesus. If he hasn't come back for the rest of everybody and the world is still continuing on, there'll still be a lot of work to do.
So it takes a long time to do this. Archeology is a very slow process. It's a painstaking process. It's a very tedious kind of thing, and it's taken a while. But we think we've finally got it.
But there are some minimalists. And I always have to introduce this gentleman because he has been my minimalist nemesis over the years. He once said and continues to say about me, "No responsible scholar goes out with a trowel in one hand and a Bible in the other."
OK, but I have to say this in response. No responsible scholar digging in the Holy Land can go out without a trowel in one hand and a Bible in the other.
The reason is simply because there is still no better historical and geographical text from the ancient world than this. There just isn't. And so you have to give this thing its due, whether you want to believe everything in it or not. You still have to use it.
Now, how do you go about finding a lost city like Sodom? Well, it's fairly easy. It's fairly straightforward.
It would sort of be if there was an alleged place called Santa Fe, and there was no sign to it, and nobody knew where it was exactly except descriptions that somehow it hung out between Albuquerque and the Colorado border, off a little bit to the northeast, about maybe an hour's drive away, I suppose you might be able to find it.
If you follow the directions, you could probably get there, even if you didn't have a map with names. And that's how it is with a lot of Bible locations. They have a lot of geographical data embedded in the text. They'll say, well, it's near this river. It's near this mountain. It's east of this city.
And if you triangulate around, you can generally identify where these places are. And this is how locations get on Bible maps. But there are three things you have to consider, the right place. If the Bible says it's in a particular location, then you go to that location. So you got to be in the right place.
The other thing is you got to be in the right time frame. Because if Abraham lives in the Bronze Age, and you'd find a location that has Hellenistic or Roman ruins, but nothing from the Bronze Age, then doesn't qualify. So it has to have the right time frame for the Biblical story involved.
It also has to have the right stuff. By the right stuff, we simply mean that if there are descriptions about that city, then we need to check out in the archeology whether those descriptions match what's found in the ground.
And when those three things, the right place, the right time, the right stuff, when they line up, we can be fairly sure that we've got the right location, that we have actually found a city in the Bible that has been lost for a long, long time.
Now, the right place means we look at the geography of the Cities of the Plain. So let's do that. There's a particular passage that we always have to turn to, and that's Genesis 13. Why Genesis 13? Because it's the only passage in the Bible that has been specifically written to take us to the city of Sodom, the only one.
There are others that talk about it, talk about Sodom, various things about it, various events. But this is the only one that will get us the road map, so to speak. So let's read it. And I've cut out almost everything here except the geography, so let's just work our way through it.
"So Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev and Lot went with him. From the Negev, he went from place to place until he came to Bethel, to the place between Bethel and Ai. Lot looked up and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan was well watered, like the garden of Yahweh, like the land of Egypt toward Zoar.
So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan and set out toward the east. Abram lived in the land of Canaan while Lot lived among the Cities of the Plain and pitched his tents near Sodom."
Now, there's a whole lot of data there, but it's going to center around a particular word translated "plain" 10 times in the overall Sodom story, 3 times in this particular passage. The word "plain" is found in the phrase "Cities of the Plain," and you'll see that here.
The "plain of the Jordan," but what does this mean? By the way, it is not the standard Hebrew word for plain, valley, flat place, bottomland and so forth. There are plenty of words for that, but this is not it. It is a different word altogether. It's the word kikkar.
By the way, the word kikkar is used in the modern world. If you go to Jerusalem and you find roundabouts, we're starting to get a few roundabouts. You like roundabouts? Other people don't like roundabouts. I would love roundabouts. Because if you forgot where you were going to go, you just keep going around until you find out which direction you need to take off, so I kind of like that.
But the word kikkar, it means a circle. And so if you go to Jerusalem, you're going to find kikkar this traffic circle [INAUDIBLE] traffic circle Elijah. I don't know if that one exists. But you'll find traffic circles that are just called kikkar. That's what it means.
In the Old Testament, it mostly refers to a talent of metal, a flat circular disk of metal, or a pita bread, a tortilla, in essence. So talents or tortillas, that's what it means. In fact, outside the Bible, this word is used a lot, but it never ever has a geographical meaning at all. It only means talents or tortillas.
There is a little meaning in it in the Egyptian language, the word [EGYPTIAN], which means to draw a circle in the sand with a stick. But kikkar just basically means a circle, basically a talent or a tortilla.
Now, here it is. The Jordan Valley, this is the southern part of it, ends at the north end of the Dead Sea. So here, you see the Dead Sea. Here, you see highlighted in green, the narrow Jordan Valley coming down and then widening out in a large expanse about 30 kilometers wide as it enters the north into the Dead Sea.
So this is the Kikkar. This is the circle of the Jordan. And this is the only possible place this could be, because the Bible tells us very clearly that [INAUDIBLE] Kikkar of [INAUDIBLE], the Kikkar of the Jordan, ends at the bay of the Dead Sea at the mouth of the Jordan below Pisgah, which is Nebo. So all of that's happening north of the Dead Sea.
And so you can see it all here, the Jordan River, the Kikkar, the mouth of the Jordan and Pisgah, all of that from the biblical formula for the location of the termination of the Jordan Valley, which terminates at the Kikkar. And so this is the only possible location for the Cities of the Plain, including Sodom.
The Bible also says in a very astute observation that the Kikkar was well watered, first of all, like the garden of the Lord, garden of Yahweh. How was the Garden of Eden watered? If you go back and read that passage in Genesis 2 about the Garden of Eden, it says a river ran through it. And then it broke into four channels outside the garden.
But in the garden, it was simply a single river running through the garden. And that's exactly how the Jordan River runs through the Kikkar. A single river goes right down through the middle of it. But it's also watered like Egypt. How was Egypt watered? Egypt almost never got rain. In fact, a thunderstorm in Egypt was seen as a bad omen.
Egypt was watered by the Nile River, which overflowed its banks in the delta next to the Mediterranean in the north, overflowed its banks, covered the land. And they would then plant in the silt left by the receding waters.
And so that kind of hydrologic situation drove Nilotic civilization for 3,000 years. Sometimes it was better than others. But it allowed the Egyptians to build a great civilization because water was hardly ever a problem.
So the Jordan River is exactly the same. It's like a Nile in miniature. And Moses, who basically is putting this passage together, grew up where? Egypt.
So he would have immediately recognized as he was camped in the area right before they crossed the Jordan, and he finished up his writings of the Torah books, in particular, the book of Deuteronomy right there. By the way, in a little bit I'm going to show you the chair that I think Moses wrote the book of Deuteronomy on. Just kidding. But it could be.
It could be. But he's there. And he knows this phenomenon. He sees the river overflowing in the spring time. And says, wow, that's just like the Nile. And so he writes it up. It was watered like Egypt, and so it was a good observation.
Now, here is. That's a little bit of the overflowing of the Nile, and the Kikkar, and all the rivers that feed into the valley. And there's Jericho on the west side.
Now on the west side, anybody been to Jericho? Jericho exists because there's a spring there. And it's the only city that really ever grew up on that side of the river, because there's one spring. It's enough for one city, not for two or three. So it was very sparse. A good living for one city, but not for many.
But on the east side of the Jordan, it's a different situation altogether. There are numerous springs on that side, plus there are several perennial rivers that run in on that side as well. So water just is hardly ever a problem on the other side. It's the best watered agriscape in the region.
When everybody else through the history of the region suffers famine and drought, this location, the people in this location survive and thrive when others are struggling or dying completely, so it's an important area.
The Bible also says that Lot could see the whole area of the Kikkar from Bethel an Ai. Remember it said he was standing at Bethel and Ai and he looked over, he saw the whole circle of the Jordan. Well, where was he? Here's where he was standing. Oh, by the way, that's the traditional sites of Sodom and Gomorrah in the south. Here's Bethel and Ai, where Lot was standing.
And you have to ask that question, where was he standing when he saw what he saw? Could he have possibly seen the southern sights? No, because it's completely blocked by the hills. You cannot see in that direction.
What you can see from Bethel and Ai, and we excavated at Ai for six years, that's what you can see. You can see the Kikkar. And if you get over close enough to the edge of the scarp, you can see the entire thing, including Jericho. So that's what he saw.
So Lot traveled eastward then, according to Genesis 13. Here's Ai. Here's eastward, and voila. Doesn't say he took a right-hand turn. He stayed north of the Dead Sea.
So this is the way it shakes out. Lot looked that direction therefore, and he went that direction. And Sodom can therefore only be in that particular location in the Kikkar of the Jordan, north of the Dead Sea. And that's the geography. It cannot be in the Dead Sea region proper.
So that's a lock. Then, we have the chronology of the Cities of the Plain. This is pretty easy. We can go through this really quick. Abraham belongs to what we commonly call the middle Bronze Age. It's the height of Canaanite civilization.
During the middle Bronze Age, the great cities, the great walled cities of Canaan that were eventually seen by Joshua-- remember he said, oh, we can't go in there. These cities are walled up to the heavens. Those great cities came to be during the time of Abraham during the middle Bronze Age.
And so the early Bronze Age is there. The middle Bronze Age is there. Abraham and Lot belong there. But Genesis 10 also talks about Sodom and the Cities of the Plain. Genesis 10 takes us back to the beginning of the building of great walled cities. And we know when that happened archaeologically. It happened during the early Bronze Age.
And so Sodom then spans the time from Abraham and Lot all the way back to Genesis 10. So if we're going to find the Sodom of the Bible, we are going to find it in a period that spans those periods, early Bronze, intermediate and middle Bronze Age. That's the proper time frame for Sodom.
Well, interestingly enough, Jericho occupies that. All these little yellow lines represent the roads and trade routes of the area. On the other side of the river, there actually happened to be a whole lot of little towns and cities, one big one in particular. They all have names.
And the big one sitting at the major intersection is Tall el-Hammam, what we've been excavating for 12 years, the site that we believe is biblical Sodom. And every single one of these sites has the Bronze Age profile that could qualify it as being part of the Cities of the Plain.
So not only did we find Sodom we believe, but also many, many others that can be Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboim and any other smaller cities that were associated as satellites.
So here's Tall el-Hammam. And we're looking from the hills to the east over to the west, and just catching to the left there the north end of the Dead Sea. And it is overspread by a large early Bronze Age settlement, and the intermediate Bronze Age. And then the time of Abraham, there is a large walled city there.
And it is quite large. How big is it? In the same period, remember a fellow by the name of Melchizedek? Melchizedek was hanging out with Abraham at a time after Abraham had chased after the kings.
Remember they had sacked Sodom, taken Lot, his nephew, captive. And he went after them, got him, defeated the Chedorlaomer, brought the spoils back. And the King of Sodom wanted to pay, and he said, no, no, no.
And then, interesting, the King of Sodom and Abraham went over to Jerusalem to the Valley of the Kings and met with Melchizedek. Melchizedek had a city. That city was Salem, or Jerusalem.
How big was Jerusalem in the time of Abraham, in the time of Melchizedek? It was about 10 acres. How big was Jerusalem, say, later in the time of King David? Same, about 10 acres. It got a little bit bigger under King Solomon, but Jerusalem was always a rather small city.
In comparison, the city of Sodom, King Bera's town, was 62 acres inside the city wall, not including a lot of the city that lay in villages that lay right in the shadow of it outside the city wall. So it was really, really big in comparison to most, if not all of the other cities in the region. So it's a large concern, and was probably the dominant sociopolitical force in the region.
Now, what's the right stuff? The archeology of the Cities the Plain. I want to focus on one little quick thing here. It's fortified. Do you remember in Genesis 19:1 it says, "Lot sat in the gateway of Sodom." Remember that? "Lot sat in the gateway of Sodom."
Well, if you have a gateway, you have a wall, because that's what you use a gate for to get through the fortifications and get inside the city. So sitting in the gate indicates that the city was fortified.
This next slide, my assistant director on the Tall el-Hammam excavation project, Gary Byers and I standing a few years ago on top of the early Bronze Age city wall. That wall is 2.2 miles long. It is 18 feet thick, and was probably about 40 feet high in its heyday. So its huge fortification walls.
This is Danette and I standing atop the middle Bronze Age rampart system. The upper city is separately fortified inside the lower city. So you have a big wall on the outside, a smaller fortification on the inside, but still very substantial. And it took somewhere between 60 million and 100 million mud bricks to build the rampart systems at Tall el-Hammam.
Everybody else built theirs out of packed earth. They just piled up the dirt in big berms. But the people of Sodom built all of their fortifications, including their defensive ramparts, out of mud bricks. Amazing. Nobody else did that. It's the only city where that's found. It's really incredible.
So here's the southern defenses. So there's the early Bronze Age city wall. And then later, they refurbished it. And they gave us some new towers on the outside. And the red color here gives us the middle Bronze Age city wall. That's the one that was there in the time of Abraham. And there's an entrance to the wall.
And then we have a reconstruction of the middle Bronze Age gateway system. This came to light about four years ago. And I shared that with you. I want to show you an updated version of that. We discovered a couple of years ago that it had a pillared gate house. And I mentioned that before, but I want to bring it back up. This is the configuration. It's completely different that any Bronze Age gate house ever discovered in this part of the world.
We think it's because the people who early on settled at Sodom, what became the city of Sodom, were originally, many of them from the island of Crete. They were part of the Minoan civilization of Crete.
And if you study the Cretan civilization, you begin to understand that they had an interesting unique kind of culture to raise young boys. And I've talked about this before, and really don't like talking about it, but it was a homosexual arrangement where older men took for a period of several years a younger-- starting at 12 years old, a 12-year-old boy, and mentored him for about 10 years, including all the physical activity that goes with that.
And this became the warrior culture of the Middle East, by the way. And this kind of culture was spread to Sodom, and it probably has something to do with how the Sodomites reacted to the young men, the angels, who came to visit Lot to warn him of the destruction of the city. And so there's all kinds of little connections going on here. And so this ties us to the Minoan culture. This is how the Minoans built their buildings.
And interesting, do you see as you go in this-- if you ran in the gate and weren't paying attention, what would you run into? There's a pillar right smack in the central access of the gatehouse as you come in the gate. Who would do that? Well, it's a notable question. Because guess what? The Minoans do that. Their temples are built that way. Their buildings, they always have right inside the doorway a central pillar. And we have that feature here as well.
So it was a pretty exciting thing to discover that, because it makes it quite unique. It even has, we think, a light well associated with it. Well, here's what it looks like. This is Dr. Lane [INAUDIBLE] cutaway drawing of what that gate house with its flanking towers looked like. And so it starts to give you an idea as Lot sat in the gate, this is the gateway that he was sitting in. And he was probably sitting in that very gate house in the shade as people came in and out of the city doing whatever he did in the gate.
And then here's a recent reconstruction drawing of what the city of Sodom may have looked like. We haven't excavated all of it yet, but we can extrapolate because we know where the residential areas are. We know where the temples are. We know where the palace is, and we know where most of the towers are. And this is a really good faithful rendition of it, kind of gives you an idea.
Just throw in one little exciting discovery, this is one of the most exciting things for me. It's just a little tiny thing. It's three or four plates of scale armor wrapped in a tunic from the city of Sodom from the time of Abraham.
This is a piece of the cloth that you can see. Cloth preserved from the time of Abraham from the city of Sodom, it's amazing. It's just a little tiny thing, but these are the kinds of things that can get an archaeologist excited. We can actually tell that it's probably made out of linen. It's not wool. It's linen.
Just a couple of pictures here while we're at it not from this past season, from the season before. You can see what it looks like on an average dig day. And I hope that you, some of you, will go with us this coming late winter, late January through early March. You take one week, or two, or three, or four, whatever you like. Come and dig with us. And if you want to know how to do that, you say, oh, I'm too old to dig. So am I.
In fact, our photographer now, I think he just turned 84 this year. He started in his younger years, and is still going strong going up and down those hills taking all the photographs.
If you can walk a mile on uneven ground successfully, then you can be a good volunteer digger at the Tall el-Hammam excavation project. We would love to have you. And if you want to find out about how to do that, just give me a call. Come and see me afterword or call me at 33B-IBLE and we'll be glad to talk to you, tell you how you can do that.
This is what it looks like when you get to a final photograph and everything that you've excavated over the last six or eight weeks is all spit shine polished, cleaned up, swept, all looking good, and then you take these photographs. And of course here, we have this whole lot of different layers represented from different periods.
Now just quickly, I want to bring some of you who haven't heard of the destruction of Sodom evidence that we've found, I wanted to bring you up to speed on that. In this particular area where Tall el-Hammam is located, there are no late Bronze Age sites. What that means is that during the middle Bronze Age in the time of Abraham, all of these cities in this civilization came to a screeching sudden halt, and did not continue. They completely died out for the next seven centuries.
It's really unusual, because remember this is the best watered agricultural land in the region. They just died, were wiped out suddenly, and then nobody lived there for a good long time. Or at least there were no cities and towns in the area. People still had to cross the area and use it because of the trade routes. But in this area, it's interesting. There are just 0 sites from the next period.
Now you have to ask a question based on some facts. And the two facts are that Bronze Age civilization thrived for 2,500 years with Sodom or Tall el-Hammam as its center. But this Bronze Age civilization came to a screeching termination about the end of the middle Bronze Age, and it remained unoccupied for seven centuries.
Why did this happen? What happened? Why did this occur? You have to ask the question. And the Bible gives us the answer to the question. Now, it's very difficult for scholars to dive into that. But the fact is that the archeology absolutely confirms what the Bible describes. So you can't just pass it off.
Digging down in the very early seasons, we found a massive stratum from the time of Abraham, this massive ash layer, dark, stinky ash from the destruction of the city. In this place, it was about a meter, a meter and a half thick, laying over what was left of the foundations of the buildings that had been destroyed. So it was ugly stuff.
And down at the bottom of a similar in the same stratum, down at the bottom of another trench, we found this little one. And by the way, if you come to the Museum of Archeology and Biblical History at Trinity Southwest University-- that museum will be opening soon, and we'll keep you posted on that-- this and other pieces of this kind of material are on display in the museum.
But you can see that this particular piece of a storage jar has some similarities to this other material to the right, carbon separation, calcium separation from the silica at a very high heat. What's interesting is that the stuff on the left is a middle Bronze Age pottery shared from Sodom. The stuff on the right is trinitite from ground 0 of the first atomic bomb explosion. So they're the same that kind of material produced in the same manner. And it's pretty stunning to see that.
This is desert glass formed by impact, meteoritic impact just about four kilometers between Tall el-Hammam and the Dead Sea. And we now know from Dr. Phil Silvia's research with seven other university labs and scientists working with us that the city was literally blown off its foundations. Here's some bone scatter, human bone scatter in the ash remains.
We also find lots of other stuff, too-- beads, children's toys, look at that beautiful vase, bowl, [INAUDIBLE] juglet, all this stuff from the middle Bronze Age, pieces of bronze jewelry, a beautiful Hyksos scarab. It's a personal seal. A Bronze Age jar, and prodigious quantities of this black ash that overspread the entire destruction layer.
But we now know something really interesting happened. We call it the 3.7KYrBP Kikkar event. That is a meteoritic object came out of the southwest-- And? We now we think we know the direction-- came out of the southwest and obliterated 500 square kilometers that is the Kikkar of the Jordan. And here it is.
Now, what's interesting is in that part of the city, there's almost no mud brick adhering to the stone foundations. Literally the city has been blown off its foundations.
If you look behind this 100-foot high rampart for the upper city, this huge mud brick berm that's about 50 meters thick at the base, you find lots of mud brick 10, 20 courses on top of the foundations up to the top of the rampart so that the blast came up over the rampart, blew the tops of the buildings off, especially the palace which is probably three stories tall at least. Blew it off, literally sheared it off. And it's amazing.
And so we find it that the direction was in this southwest to northeast direction. Now, something else tells us that. Look at this. You say, oh, it's a picture of a big rock. See that little grinder next to it like a little stone bowl? Well, it's not little. It's about this big. That's about as big as a watermelon. That grinding stone that you see there, this guy, is over a meter long. It weighs over 400 pounds.
And you see this nice surf-- you know what a metate is? Seen the grinders around Here Yeah, this is a big giant metate. It's called a saddle quern. And there's the surface on the side. The surface, the grinding surface is like this. That stone was on a little pedestal made of mud brick. And you'll never guess which way it was turned over-- from the southwest to the northeast.
It was literally turned over and spilling off the top of it is the carbonized grain that was being ground at the time it was turned over. And all the pottery on this floor was strewn from southwest to northeast. It's really quite amazing.
So it came in like this. Boom. Oh, that was fun.
Let's do that again. Let's bring it in from the southwest. Here it comes. Shoo, at a low altitude it comes in very shallow and explodes, and completely destroys the cities of the Kikkar.
Now, switch the subject just a tiny bit. What happens when you ignore the biblical text? In this particular case of the Kikkar geography, good things do not happen geographically when you ignore the Bible. Let me show you. I'm going to show you some pages from the number one historical Bible atlas on the planet. It's a really good one. It's very scholarly. It's really the only scholarly Bible atlas that you could get away quoting in an article, a scholarly article or a dissertation.
And he has a map of the Holy Land in the various archaeological periods. Well, here's one from the Chalcolithic Period. This is the Copper Stone Age, the time right before the Bronze Age. But look at this. The whole area in the Kikkar northeast the Dead Sea where we're working is blank. It's blank. Look at this one. This is the early Bronze Age site map. It's also blank. It's blank.
Look at this one. Here's the intermediate. Except for Ik Tanu, it's blank. By the way, Tall el-Hammam is now known in the scholarly world as the largest intermediate Bronze Age city in the Southern Levant. We're the biggest. There's nobody else. I guess that's why they were the biggest. There isn't another one. They all went out of business. Tall el-Hammam is thriving. All of its satellites are thriving.
Ik Tanu, this other little city nearby, is just one of our satellites. But yet the information of the archaeologist that produced this hasn't gotten them to the point where they've put it on their maps yet.
Look at this Bronze Age site map. It's completely blank. Now, when you ignore the Bible, this is what you get. Because look at the actual area northeast of the Dead Sea. You have lots and lots and lots of places. Many of these have been excavated. We've excavated Tall el-Hammam Kafrein, Nimrin. Others have been excavated.
People don't pay attention to it because it's not part of their narrative. They haven't incorporated the biblical story of Sodom and these events into their narrative because they don't believe they ever existed. The blind leading the blind. So this is being corrected.
By the way, people often ask us, how is the Tall el-Hammam Sodom excavation project being treated in the scholarly community at large? Well the last three years, I've been invited. I didn't have to put in to read a paper and get accepted or rejected. I was invited to present about Tall el-Hammam at three of the major conferences, world conferences.
Just a few months ago in April, I had been invited and went to present in the Jordan Valley section of the Chalcolithic to EB1 section of that conference. It was the International Congress on the Archeology of the Ancient Near East, and I was invited to present. So how are scholars treating it? Well, very, very well from an archaeological point of view, because they're really going to look ignorant if they don't include it, because it's so very important.
So now, we're being routinely asked to participate in these presentations and conferences about Tall el-Hammam. And by the way, while I was in Vienna, we were having this dinner reception at the palace of the governor, the mayor of Vienna. And one of the archaeologists who actually works in the region was not in my session, but she actually came over and she said, Steve, you lucky dog. You have such a great site. How did you find Tall el-Hammam?
And she proceeded to get an earful of Genesis Chapter 13. And she just smiled and walked away. But they're starting to find out you can't ignore the Bible and get away with it. You have to pay attention to the text.
So I start goading them with this things like this. If in the past, archaeologist and Bible scholars had taken the Sodom tale seriously, they would have discovered the civilization in the Land of the Kikkar a long time ago, but they didn't, and they didn't. But we did and we did. We just followed the text. It was as simple as that.
Let me just, and as we start to wrap this up, show you a few things from this past season. Working away, you can see our folks. This great jar, it's about this tall. And it was terrific, but completely empty. Didn't even fill in with dirt. It had no lid. But we unearthed it, it was completely empty. You could stick your arm all the way down in there. Don't know why. Don't know how that happens. I've never seen that happen before, but there it is, beautiful jar.
These were our folks digging this year. And this was a spectacular find because this hardly ever happens. Well, there was a third jar. It's already been taken out. You see a [INAUDIBLE] on the right there. These are three large storage jars packed with grain, carbonized barley. And let's blow it up look at it. This is 3,500-year-old carbonized barley. It's amazing.
Now, that's from a special place. I'm going to spend the last three minutes doing this. Because we discovered something in the last two seasons that just floored me, just floored me. I didn't see it coming, wasn't looking for it, but it hit us like a ton of bricks. Moses and the Israelites in the Bible, when they got to this location, it's called the plains of Moab, they camped from Beth Jeshimoth to Abel-Shittim. And here's the passage real quick.
"Moses and the Israelites camped on the plains of Moab by the Jordan across from Jericho. There on the plains of Moab they camped along the Jordan from Beth Jeshimoth to Abel-Shittim. Now scholars have already identified our site, Tall el-Hammam, as the area of Abel-Shittim. What that means is the place of mourning a catastrophe, Abel means a place of mourning a catastrophe, where there are Shittim, acacia trees.
Now, we're already that. But this other thing that's interesting. What is Beth Jeshimoth? Beth Jeshimoth means house of the desolation or the destruction, house of the desolation or destruction. Now, I never even thought about this before. I thought, it's just a place. We don't have a geographical place because Sodom was destroyed and there's nobody living there when Moses gets there. It's just a blank plain. That's why they don't have to fight anybody. They just pull up. All the Israelites encamp there, and they just wait to cross the river.
But Moses being a general would have noticed that on the top of Tall el-Hammam, former Sodom, on the top, there had been built a little house. Now, here's Abel-Shittim and there's Jericho across the river, by the way. Moses' command encampment would be on the top of that site because of its 360 views. And the Levitical encampment would be around it. And the Israelites then would just camp wherever they could.
Now, it looks like this. That's Moses' command camp, the lower city, the Levitical camp, the Tabernacle in yellow. And the Israelites camped all around it. It's a perfect set up. But what's interesting is Beth Jeshimoth.
Now, look at this. We discovered on the top of Tall el-Hammam a single, isolated free-standing building from the time of Moses and Joshua. It was a tariff house. I'll show you in a minute why we know it was a tariff house. But it's just about a few meters by a few meters. It's overly built. It's got huge beams. It's a government thing. This is not a house. This is a government building for collecting taxes from the people who are coursing through the area.
And guess what? Let me just show you here. There it is. Right there on top, here it is right on the top of the pile of the ruins. That yellow represents that house, the fallen down. Look at this huge beam 30 centimeters in diameter. And there's a carbonized chair laying on the floor. Here's what I think. I think Moses would have co-opted this particular house when he came there. Why not? You wouldn't have destroyed it. You would have used it and then destroyed it on the way out.
I have a sneaking suspicion that Moses used this furniture. This is a leg of a chair carbonized on the floor. There were other things. There were also balance scale pans made of bronze. So they were enacting business and some scales, some weights. I really think that Moses very well could have co-opted and used this particular house for the several months or a year or so until they crossed over the river.
And on a table seated in this chair or one of the other chairs that were carbonized on this floor, Moses completed the book of Deuteronomy. Now, talk about goosebumps when you look at something like that and you go, it sounds so far-fetched, but the archeology, and the logic and the geography, it all just works so perfectly that it was so very exciting.
So that's just another little thing that's going on-- the house of the desolation. By the way if, you built a tariff house on the top of a pile of ruins, might you call it the house of the desolation? So maybe the house of the desolation really was a literal house after all. It accords with, it matches the Bible exactly, so that was very exciting.
Well, we could go on and on and on until midnight, but we're out of time. We're going to get the band out here to dismiss everybody. But listen, the Bible works not only for your own personal life. It works in archeology. It works everywhere you apply it. Trust it. Follow it. God bless you all.
What binds us together is devotion to worshipping our Heavenly Father, dedication to studying His word and determination to proclaim our eternal hope in Jesus Christ.
For more teachings from Calvary Albuquerque and Skip Heitzig, visit Calvaryabq.org.