Russia and Jordan have signed an agreement to search the bottom of the Dead Sea for the remains of the Biblical cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, Arabic news media reported over the weekend. According to the report, a Russian company has agreed to conduct the search in cooperation with Jordanian authorities, picking up all costs – in exchange for exclusive rights to film a documentary of the search. The report quoted one of the Jordanian heads of the project, Zia Madani, as saying that the search would begin in late December.
According to Madani, further evidence that the cities remains are located on the Jordanian side of the Dead Sea came after recent NASA photographs of the area indicated that the bottom of the sea is littered with debris and objects not found in other bodies of water. According to the Jordanian, Israel recently sent a submarine down into the Dead Sea in an attempt to explore the bottom of the sea, but discovered that the objects in the NASA photos were on the Jordanian side of the sea. Jordan prevented the Israelis from searching over the border, and now Jordan is seeking to discover what it believes are the remains of the cities by itself.
Israel National News could not confirm that an Israeli submarine had in fact searched the depths of the Dead Sea on such a mission.
The full story is here. Some archaeologists and biblical scholars have suggested that Bab edh-Dhra on the eastern side of the Dead Sea may be Sodom. A new season is beginning this week at Tall el-Hammam northeast of the Dead Sea, a site the excavator believes is Sodom (but see my objections here).
One problem with the theory that Sodom is under the Dead Sea is Zephaniah 2:9, which suggests that the area of the city was known and visible late in Judah’s history, not hidden under the waters.
Therefore, as surely as I live,”
declares the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel,
“surely Moab will become like Sodom,
the Ammonites like Gomorrah—
a place of weeds and salt pits,
a wasteland forever.
The remnant of my people will plunder them;
the survivors of my nation will inherit their land.” (Zeph 2:9)