Saturday, June 11, 2016

Map 11

Proposed southern locations for the Cities of the Plain.
© 2014 Dr. David E. Graves, ECM
Proposed southern locations for the Cities of the Plain according to Dr. Bryant Wood.[1] The southern basin of the Dead Sea was once covered by water, but is now an artificial industrial pond filled with water from the northern basin and used to extract salts and minerals.

NUMERIA
Numeira and Bâb edh-Dhrâʿ were destroyed at different times, 250 years apart. FACT 39:  BAB EDH-DHRA AND NUMEIRA WERE DESTROYED AT DIFFERENT TIMES.[2] While the early conclusions of Rast and Schaub, that BeD and Numeira were both destroyed at approximately the same time (i.e., 2350–2067 BC), are often reported, it is now known that their individual destruction was separated by approximately two and a half centuries (250 years), with the destruction of BeD at ca. 2350 BC and Numeira at ca. 2600 BC. [3] If Bab edh-Dhrâ is Sodom then Numeira cannot be Gomorrah or one of the cities of the plain.

FEIFA AND KHIRBET KHANAZIR
Feifa and Khirbet Khanazir, proposed for the other Cities of the Plain, do not have Early Bronze 3 domestic occupation, as they were both only cemeteries in the EBA. At Khanazir, walls observed by Rast and Schaub in 1973 [4] were in reality rectangular structures marking Early Bronze IV shaft tombs. [5] See FACT 43: “Bab edh-Dhra and Numeira are the only inhabited towns in the southern Dead Sea Region in the EBA.” [6]

ES-SAFI
FACT 33: “There are Several Possible Locations for Zoar.” [7] No one knows for sure where biblical Zoar is located (see Map 10).  The beautiful Madaba mosaic map in the church in Madaba, Jordan, depicts the region of the Holy Land during the 6th cent. BC and has Byzantine Zoar marked on the Wadi Hesa near modern es-Safi (see map above), at the southern end of the Dead Sea.  However, no archaeological evidence has been uncovered to indicate that es-Safi is biblical Zoar. In fact there are no remains earlier than the Hellenistic Period.[8] Schuab, who excavated Bab edh-Dhra, states that the sixth century Zoar on the map is not the same as the Middle Bronze age Zoar as listed in Genesis.[9] Es Safi (Madaba map Zoar) is the Byzantine traditional site for Zoar with no archaeological evidence linking it with the Patriarchs.

It is believed that Tall el-Hammam is also identified on the Madaba map but the tesserae names are missing. [10]

DEIR 'AIN 'ABATA
FACT 34: LOT’S CAVE IS LOCATED ON THE MADABA MAP. [11] In 1983, Lot’s cave at Deir ‘Ain ‘Abata, near eṣ-Ṣafi, Jordan, was discovered by H. Donner and E. A. Knauf. Between 1988 and 1996, Greek archaeologist Konstantinos Politis and staff from the British Museum excavated the proposed venerated site of Lot’s cave. The site is identified on the Madaba Map above Zoora (Zoar). During the Byzantine period a Church was built over the cave and a monastery was established to venerate the location of Lot’s cave. [12]
The display text in the Museum of the Lowest Point on Earth at eṣ-Ṣafi, under the direction of Politis, states:
Three architectural fragments with Greek inscriptions alluding to Lot were also found on the site [of the church]. Literary and archaeological evidence suggests that it was a pilgrimage site, based around a natural cave that was believed to have been where Lot took refuge with his daughters after the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen 19). The excavations revealed an Early Byzantine monastery complex, with a church built over the cave. The church was adorned with six mosaic pavements, dated by inscriptions to 572-3, 605-7 and 692 respectively - the latest dating from after the Islamic conquest of the area.
The 7th cent. Byzantine church built in front of the cave had a mosaic with a dedication to “St Lot”. Politis also reports that:
Roman-period finds suggest an earlier veneration of the site. The additional discovery of substantial Early and Middle Bronze Age remains indicates that the cave was occupied during the period when, it is thought, the Genesis story occurred.[13]
While the cave did have Early Bronze [14] and Middle Bronze [15] pottery along with Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Umayyad, and ‘Abbasid,[16] there was no archaeological evidence which directly linked the cave to Lot. As there are many caves in the side of the mountains all along the Dead Sea (i.e., Qumran), and many people lived in the area during the EB and MB periods (i.e., the large cemeteries at BeD, Numeira, eṣ-Ṣafi, Feifeh, and Khanazir. See Fact 43), there was nothing special about this cave which connected it to Lot, other than Roman/Byzantine tradition that people used it during antiquity. The early Byzantine Christians often venerated sites to draw pilgrims  to their sites and thus the inscriptions placed on the floor of the church were commemorating this as a holy site in typical Byzantine tradition.

[1] Bryant G. Wood, “The Discovery of the Sin Cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.” Bible and Spade 12, no. 3 (1999): 67–80.
[2] David E. Graves, The Location of Sodom: Key Facts for Navigating the Maze of Arguments for the Location of the Cities of the Plain (Toronto, Ont.: Electronic Christian Media, 2016), 113-115.
[3] See Jack Donahue, “Geologic Reconstruction of Numeira,” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 255 (Summer 1984): 87; Michael David Coogan, “Numeira 1981,” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 255 (Summer 1984): 81; 1. Meredith S. Chesson and R. Thomas Schaub, “Life in the Earliest Walled Towns on the Dead Sea Plain: Numayra and Bab Edh-Dhraʿ,” in Crossing Jordan: North American Contributions to the Archaeology of Jordan, ed. Thomas Evan Levy et al. (London, U.K.: Equinox, 2007), 247.
[4] Walter E.Rast, and R. Thomas Schaub. “Survey of the Southeastern Plain of the Dead Sea, 1973.” Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan 19 (1974): 12–14.
[5] Walter E. Rast, “Bab Edh-Dhraʿ (ABD),” ed. David Noel Freedman et al., Anchor Bible Dictionary (New York, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1996), 560; R. Thomas Schaub, “Southeast Dead Sea Plain,” in The Oxford Encyclopedia of Archaeology in the Near East, ed. Eric M. Meyers, vol. 5 (Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press, 1997), 62.
[6] Graves, The Location of Sodom, 121-24.
[7] ibid, 100-104.
[8] Steven Collins, “Rethinking the Location of Zoar: An Exercise in Biblical Geography,” Biblical Research Bulletin 4, no. 1 (2006): 1–5.
[9] Schaub, R. Thomas. “Southeast Dead Sea Plain.” In The Oxford Encyclopedia of Archaeology in the Near East, edited by Eric M. Meyers, 5:62–64. Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press, 1997.
[10] See David E. Graves and Scott Stripling, “Identification of Tall el-Hammam on the Madaba Map,” Bible and Spade 20, no. 2 (2007): 35–45.
[11] Graves, The Location of Sodom, 104-106.
[12] Konstantinos D. Politis, “Where Lot’s Daughters Seduced Their Father Excavations Reveal Commemorative Monastery,” Biblical Archaeology Review 30, no. 1 (2004): 20–31, 64; “The Monastery of Aghios Lot at Deir ‘Ain ‘Abata in Jordan”; Sanctuary of Lot at Deir ‘Ain ‘Abata in Jordan Excavations 1988–2003 (Amman: Jordan Distribution Agency, 2012.
[13]  Konstantinos D. Politis, “The Lost Cities of Sodom and Gomorrah,” in The Seventy Great Mysteries of the Ancient World: Unlocking the Secrets of Past Civilizations, ed. Brian M Fagan (New York: Thames & Hudson, 2001), 37.
[14] Politis, "Sanctuary of Lot at Deir ‘Ain ‘Abata in Jordan Excavations 1988–2003," 31–36.
[15] Ibid., 57–78; Michele Piccirillo, ed., “Ricerca Storico-Archeologica In Giordania 16  - 1996,” Liber annuus Studii biblici franciscani 46 (1996): 413–14.
[16] Politis, “Sanctuary of Lot at Deir ‘Ain ‘Abata in Jordan Excavations 1988–2003,” 108–114, 179–366.

 © 2014 Dr. David E. Graves, Electronic Christian Media.

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