I'm reading about Sodom and Gomorrah on wiki when I come across this: "One such idea is that the Dead Sea was devastated by an earthquake between 2100 and 1900 BCE. This might have unleashed showers of steaming tar."

What is a "tar shower?" Are there any documented cases of this? When I googled this, it went to the visual dictionary referenced in the Wikipedia article, which didn't explain the concept either.

  • 3
    They might like this question over on Earth Sciences. The first question looks off-topic here, and it would be tough to answer the second without being able to answer the first. – T.E.D. Dec 27 '17 at 3:06
  • @T.E.D.:Other places I would consider migrating it to is Biblical Herneutics or one of the religious sites. They might be better able to explain what was basically a supernatural phenomenon. – Tom Au Dec 27 '17 at 3:40
  • @TomAu - I'm not so sure about that one. While the motivation for asking it might have been religious, the questions themselves are not. – T.E.D. Dec 27 '17 at 4:18
  • @TomAu the linked paragraph from wikipedia discusses possible natural causes of the phenomens described in the Bible. – Danila Smirnov Dec 27 '17 at 5:15

The citation for the tar shower is from a book from 2007 but perhaps that book quotes some medieval work from somebody who has never been there (haven't read it). The Latin name for the Dead Sea is "asphalt sea" so some monk might have thought that the sea was compromised soley of liquid tar. Nevertheless, the valley does contain tar pits and it is possible that one of these deposits was higher than the city and spilled upon it.


There is a historical reference for the 'tar' also known as Bitumen, to appear in the Dead Sea after earthquakes. From Journal of the Society of Arts, Volume 7, 1859:

enter image description here

No mention here about it taking flight as projectiles, but it does exist in the area, and apparently was quite valuable to the locals.

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