SITE OF SODOM AND GOMORRAH. 161
would enable a spectator to identify the region whence the smoke arose, which he could not
do if it had been at the lower end. Again, in the account of the inroad of Chedorlaomer,
we read that the invaders returning from Mount Seir smote the Amorites in Hazezon Tamar,
and then were met by the King of Sodom and his confederates in the plains of Siddim, and
were pursued by Abraham to the sources of the Jordan. This could not have been if Sodom
and the other cities had been at the south end. Lastly, in the view granted to Moses from
Pisgah, "he beheld the south and the plain of the valley of Jericho, the City of Palm-trees,
unto Zoar." From Nebo it is utterly impossible to see the south-east of the Dead Sea, the
modern Dra'a, supposed to be Zoar; but if Zoar were somewhere on the lower slopes below
the Moabite range the description is perfectly natural. One very careful explorer (Lieut.
Conder, R.E.), suggests Wady Amriyeh, near Ain Feshkhah, at the north-west shoulder of
the Dead Sea, as radically identical in its name with Gomorrah, and near a great and
plenteous spring. He suggests El Damieh, near Surtabeh, twenty-three miles higher up the
valley, as pointing to the city Adam, which he identifies with Admah. Shaht ed Duba'a,
i.e. the lair of the hyena, the cliff just above Roman Jericho, he suggests as answering to
Zeboim, i.e. hyenas. We believe that the true topography is that which would place Sodom
and Gomorrah in the wide eastern stretch of the plains of Jordan, in front of the wide
plains of Shittim, and perhaps rather to the south of them, though possibly they may have
been on the western side. But Zoar certainly was on the east side, and it seems more in
accordance with the incidents of the narrative to place all the cities on the same side of
Jordan, and probably at no great distance from each other. Of Admah we have no trace,
though it has been conjecturally identified with the city " Adam," near Zarthan, in the
plain of Succoth, some way higher up and too far to harmonize well with the narrative.
Now one remarkable feature of this " Ciccar," or plain of Jordan, is the number of Tells, or
barren artificial mounds, which stud it on both sides. They recall to the traveller the artificial
mounds on which the villages of Egypt are planted to save them from inundation. They
are unquestionably artificial, for in all which have been examined fragments of pottery and
traces of sun-dried and frequently kiln-burnt bricks are found. In some, too, fragments of
columns and dressed stones may be seen. Very probably some of these nameless heaps may
mark the exact site of the doomed cities. Dr. Merrill has recently with much ingenuity
suggested five sites on the Shittim plain, to all of which names are attached by the Arabs.
Zoar he identifies with the southernmost mound, Tell Ektana (from the Hebrew katan,
" little" ?), and probably M'Shaggar, a spur in front of Nebo, sheltered the little city. Zeboim
is placed about seven miles north-west of this at Tell Shaib, and the others at Tell Kefrein,
opposite the upper ford (Abel-Shittim), at Tell Ramah, and Seweimeh, or Beth Jesimoth.
But we can scarcely expect an unquestioned identification for any one excepting Zoar, which
remained to after-times, and to which the allusions are so clear as to shut us up to the little
corner close under the Moab Mountains for our investigation.
But we have lingered long enough over these faint traces of all but prehistoric cities.