The "Bible and Spade" Summer 1999 (Vol 12, No. 3) from the Associates for Biblical Research announces "The Discovery of the Sin Cities of Sodom and Gomorrah". The name of these two cities have long been by-words in our language for wickedness. And many scholars and archaeologists have long searched for the truth about these cities.
"And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar." Genesis 13:10 (KJV)
"And Lot went up out of Zoar, and dwelt in the mountain, and his two daughters with him: for he feared to dwell in Zoar: and he dwelt in a cave, he and his two daughters." Genesis 19:30 (KJV)
"And there went out the king of Sodom, and the king of Gomorrah, and the king of Admah, and the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (the same is Zoar;) and they joined battle with them in the vale of Siddim;" Genesis 14:10 (KJV)
The first most important source for locating the cities is the location of Zoar and Lot's cave and is from the mosaic map on the floor of a church in Madaba, Jordan, known as the Madaba map.
One popular theory for a long time was that the cities were located in the plain south of the Dead Sea and later covered by the waters as the Dead sea water level has changed over time. The level of the waters has receded in recent years and search of the area has located no evidence to verify this location. Searches starting in 1973 began to discover evidences of occupied cities in the area southeast of the Dead Sea, most of them located so as to obtain the benefit of water flow from the many Wadi's of the area.
To date there has been located only evidence for two of the five Cities of the Plain, but they are proposing that the evidence is strong that the two most important cities of Sodom and Gomorrah have been found. That being the evidences found of destruction by fire at each site due to the layers of ash found in the digs by archaeologists. Bab edh-Dhra ( Sodom ) is the largest of the two sites, the 7 meter wide (23 feet) city wall enclosed 9-10 acres with gates located at the west and the northeast. The northeast gate had two flanking towers with massive stone and timber foundations, possibly the gate in which Lot sat (Genesis 19:1). Estimated population at the time of the destruction was between 600-1200. There was a large cemetery at Bab edh-Dhra and pottery evidence indicates that some of the residents of Numeira (Gomorrah) buried their dead in this cemetery. It appears that Numeria was in existence for only a short time, possibly less than 100 years. Paleobotany investigations indicated that a rich diversity of crops were grown in the area including barley, wheat, grapes, figs, lintels, flax, chickpeas, peas, broad beans, dates, and olives.
Concerning the proposed cause of the destruction, they are proposing that it was the result of an earthquake that forced combustible material to the surface and into the atmosphere. Surveys have located bitumen, petroleum, natural gas and sulfur in the area. And to the east of the Dead Sea is a major fault line and these cities are located exactly on this fault line.
The Scriptures say that Abraham looked and saw "the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace" and does not seem to mention a quaking, but does use the Hebrew term for "overturning" in Deuteronomy 29:23. Possibly this is an indication that the earthquake proposal is valid. Changes of elevation of up to 164 feet have been noted which caused a change in direction of the Wadi Numeria at the site, which is believed to be the event that caused the destruction. Also found were evidences that the residents hastily fled the site and buried skeletons of those who were caught in the destruction.Conclusion: The author proposes that "... it is clear that the infamous cities of Sodom and Gomorrah have now been found." You may visit their web site at http://www.ChristianAnswers.net/abr/abrhome.html