Sodom and Gomorrah are biblical shorthand for absolutely everything going as morally wrong as possible and being utterly annihilated as a result. Biblical skeptics have dismissed the story as nothing but a cautionary tale made up millennia ago, but science has found evidence that Sodom and Gomorrah may have been destroyed more or less exactly how the Bible describes.

According to the Bible, “the LORD rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah–from the LORD out of the heavens. Thus He overthrew those cities and the entire plain, destroying all those living in the cities–and also the vegetation in the land…Abraham looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, toward all the land of the plain, and he saw dense smoke rising from the land, like smoke from a furnace.” According to science, this catastrophic destruction may have been the result of a low-altitude meteor that passed over the area. The meteor began to fragment in the atmosphere before slamming into the Austrian Alps at Kofels and causing a landslide that was over three miles wide and over 400 yards deep. The fragmented meteorite did not leave a traditional impact crater which made it difficult for scientists to locate it, but the trail of destruction it left behind as it hurtled over the Mediterranean and Middle East would have been inconceivable to the ancients.

As the meteor raced close to Earth’s surface, it would have superheated the air around it and the ground below it. Pottery found at the city of Tall el-Hammam, a site near where Sodom and Gomorrah were believed to stand, showed that the mud-brick walls were suddenly eradicated and pottery shards were found to have melted into glass, signs indicative of extremely high temperatures as the meteorite raced overhead.

Things did not improve for the region once the meteorite slammed into the Austrian Alps. The explosive impact created a flash that was over 700 degrees Fahrenheit and threw debris across an area of nearly 400,000 square miles. The shockwave pushed hypersaline water from the Dead Sea over its banks where it was absorbed into the soil of nearby communities, quite literally salting the earth. A clay tablet that baffled scientists for over a century gave further evidence for the fact that Sodom and Gomorrah really were destroyed in a hail of “burning sulfur…[that destroyed] all those living in the cities and also the vegetation in the land.” Once successfully translated in 2008, the tablet was found to contain an eyewitness account of the meteorite strike. This, combined with the debris and flash burn-created glass on pottery, is essentially the smoking gun that proves that fire really did rain down over the Middle East during the time of Abraham and level cities.

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