Experts believe that they may have found the Biblical city of Sodom in eastern Jordan. The area, which according to the Bible was destroyed by God as a punishment for its sinning citizens, was discovered by a team of US archaeologists when they found the remains of a large Bronze Age city.
A decade worth of excavations has revealed a large chunk of the city, which included defences and plazas linked by roads. It was found in an area called Tall el-Hammam near to the Jordan River Valley and dates back between 3500 and 1450BC, but the team from Trinity Southwestern University in New Mexico say that it was abandoned for at least 700 years.
Archaeologist Steven Collins from the university said: "We know very little about the Bronze Age in the south of the Jordan River Valley. Most archaeological maps of the area were blank. But what we have found is an important city-state, which was unknown before our project began.
"Tall el-Hammam matches the description of the area where Sodom was located according to the Bible. It was said to be the largest city east of Kikkar. So, I came to the conclusion that if one wanted to find Sodom, one should seek the largest city that existed in this area during the Bronze Age, in the time of Abraham. When we explored the region, Tall el-Hammam was an obvious choice, as it was five to 10 times larger than the other Bronze Age cities throughout the region, even those found beyond Jordan."
He adds that the city may have been abandoned following a massive earthquake in the region, which could have been interpreted at the time as a message from God. "It became an uninhabited wasteland for over 700 years but then, after those seven centuries, it started to flourish again – as indicated by the huge iron gate that leads into the city."