29. The Horrific Sudden Disaster That Befell This Ancient City
One day, circa 1650 BC, the inhabitants of a Bronze Age city a few miles northeast of the Dead Sea went about their daily business, blissfully ignorant of the doom headed their way. Unbeknownst to the residents of what is now known as Tell el-Hammam, an archaeological site in Jordan, an unseen icy space rock was hurtling their way at a speed of 38,000 miles per hour. As it ripped through the atmosphere, the small asteroid left a fiery trail in its wake, before it burst about two and a half miles above the ancient city. The explosion was roughly 1000 times more powerful than the nuclear blast that destroyed Hiroshima. Those unfortunates whose eyes had been focused on the plunging space rock when it blew up were instantly blinded. In a minor mercy, they did not have long to contemplate their loss of sight.
In a flash, Tell el-Hammam was transformed into an inferno. Wood and clothes burst into flames, while pottery, bricks, swords, spears, and metal began to melt as air temperatures spiked about 3600 degrees Fahrenheit. A few moments later, the shockwave arrived. Winds whose speed exceeded 740 mph tore through the city and destroyed all in their path, sheared the top of the ruler’s four-story palace, and blew the wreckage into the next valley over. Everybody in the city, an estimated 8000 people, and every animal, perished, mangled, ripped apart, their bones broken, and their body parts burnt. The shockwave continued on, and a minute later, slammed into biblical Jericho about fourteen miles west of Tell el-Hammam, and brought down its walls. As seen below, scholars believe that this ancient catastrophe gave rise to the biblical narrative about Sodom and Gomorrah.