Tell el-Hammam

By the Editors of the Madain Project

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The Tell el-Hammam, also spelled as Tall al-Hammam, is an archaeological location situated in Jordan, located in the eastern region of the lower Jordan Valley near the Jordan River's mouth. The site contains significant artifacts from the Chalcolithic, Early, Intermediate, and Middle Bronze Age, as well as from Iron Age II.

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At its peak of hegemony and size during the Middle Bronze Age (MB), the ancient metropolis of tell el-Hammam would have encompassed an area of about 150 hectors and may have support a population of up to 65,000 people. The excavations have revealed remains and artefacts dating back to a long period of human occupation consisting of various eras, including, Neolithic, Chalcolithic, Early Bronze Age, Intermediate Bronze Age, Middle Bronze Age, Iron Age II, and as late as the Roman/Byzantine period.

The ancient city of Tell el-Hammam appears to have been destroyed around 1750–1650 BCE during the Middle Bronze Age II (MB II).

Excavations have unveiled an extensive history of uninterrupted habitation, commencing from the Neolithic Period and stretching into the Middle Bronze Age. Subsequently, a walled town from the Iron Age II was constructed on the upper elevation, featuring imposing towers and a gateway. Previous investigations on both the upper and lower elevations have uncovered impressive structures, such as a substantial Middle Bronze rampart system crafted entirely from mudbricks, a sealed gate from Early Bronze III, a designated sacred precinct, and an emerging complex of Middle Bronze gateways and towers. Our objectives for the ninth season include the ongoing exploration of the Middle Bronze gateway and gatehouse, resuming activities in the administrative and residential sections of the temple, and continuing investigations in a newly explored area initiated in season eight, which has revealed materials and architectural elements spanning from the Neolithic to Iron Age II.

Notable Structures


Middle Bronze Age Palace
Discoveries within the chambers of the so called "palace complex" reveal a concentration on storage, food preparation, and cooking, evident through the presence of numerous ovens, grindstones, and sizable storage jars (often filled with grain). The distinctive decoration and treatment found on most of these vessels suggest that they may have been crafted for an elite class of people, potentially including the 'king', who may have resided in this grand complex. If this is the case, the structure or complex of structures probably served as a palace during the Middle Bronze Age. The "palace" complex was constructed on the highest point of the upper tell or the acropolis. The Middle Bronze Age (MBA) palace complex was excavated from excavation seasons ten through fourteen.

Exavation Efforts and Critique

circa 2005 CE- Contd.

Since 2005 CE, Steven Collins from Trinity Southwest University, an unaccredited institution with a biblical inerrantist perspective in the United States, has overseen excavations at the site. In 2016 CE, a University of Oxford team observed significant disruption to the ancient mound caused by the excavations. Archaeologists have expressed apprehension, suggesting that linking the site to Sodom may encourage looting and the illicit trade of antiquities, as items explicitly marketed to those seeking a tangible connection with the Bible are highly sought after.

Identification with the Biblical Sodom

circa 1900 BCE

Although, there have been different attempts at identifying the site with a biblical city, more recently it has been identified with the bibical Sodom. The names Sodom (and Gomorrah) are infamous for God's judgement upon the wickedness of the people who lived in the two cities spoken of in the Book of Genesis. Dr. Collins associates the site with the biblical city of Sodom, a proposition dismissed by both scientists and other proponents of biblical literalism. The theory is presented in conjunction with the claim that the site may be the source of the biblical story of the destruction of Sodom.

But in most cases this identification has not been accepted or has been entirely rejected in the academic community, providing a large number of reasons, including geograical, historical, chronological and biblical text.

Possible Depiction on the Madaba Map

circa 1900 BCE

The Madaba Mosaic Map depicts a notable yet unnamed location (inspect), nestled in the date palms, near the upper-left corner of the Dead Sea just above where the Jordan River meets the Dead Sea. During the last few decades numerous efforts have been undertaken to associate it with a number of ancient archaeological sites; including Tall Iktanu, Tall Kefrein, Tall Nimrin, Tall Rameh, and Khirbet Sweimeh. The upper part of the Madaba Map where the ancient site is depicated has not survived, and it is possible that the identification or name of the site may had been noted there, hence the large number of speculations. Another theory (Graves & Stripling, 2007, Locating Tall el-Hammam on the Madaba Map) has been put forth that propose that it is most likely the archaeological site we know today as the Tel el-Hammam.

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