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Abstract

The biblical story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is interpeted as a reflection of a real natural disaster. According to the Bible. Sodom and Gomorrah were situated near the southern part of the Dead Sea basin or in the Jordan River valley. The description of their destruction in the Bible can be interpreted only as volcanic eruption. Evidence of middle Holocene volcanism is absent both in the Dead Sea and Jordan River regions, but has been found in the Neogene—Quaternary lava highland in the southern Syria. At two settlements, Khirbet El-Umbashi and Hebariye, dated around the second part of the third millennium bc, many animal bones were covered by the basaltic lava. It is possible that, the Bible's story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah combined collective memories about two events. Located in the Dead Sea region, Sodom and Gomorrah were most probably destroyed by a strong earthquake or flood, but the fresh memory about two settlements perishing from a volcanic eruption caused the population to merge these two events.

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