Many biblical scholars who frequented the Dead Sea region during the 19th century favored a location for Sodom and Gomorrah northeast of the Dead Sea. They did so on the basis of clear statements in Genesis 13:1-12 as to their location on the Kikkar of the Jordan. Once they had visited the entire region, it became obvious to geographical thinkers like W.M. Thomson that the Cities of the Plain belonged to the Jordan Valley proper, not the southern end of the Dead Sea.
My “northern Sodom” theory has been batted about the scholarly community since I first began to publish on the subject in 2002. In the fall of that year, I presented a paper to the Near East Archaeological Society wherein I provided a detailed refutation of the traditional “southern Sodom” hypothesis held by several scholars, including B. G. Wood. Since that time, I have continued to challenge southern Sodom advocates regarding the many serious “cracks” in the southern theory, encouraging them to come up with a substantive refutation of my theory, if they could muster one. Up to the present time no one has attempted a detailed critique of my northern theory in print, until now. In my opinion, the fatal weaknesses inherent in Wood’s criticisms of my position reveal the untenable nature of the southern Sodom hypothesis.
What we now know about the archaeology of the eastern Kikkar, particularly from excavations at Tall Nimrin and Tall el-Hammam, is well enough to put an end both to the Albrightian legend of the southern Dead Sea location, and the Finkelsteinian legend about aetiological legends.
The Madaba Mosaic Map indicates a prominent but unnamed site near the upper-left edge, just above the Jordan River. Various attempts have been made to identify it with Tall Iktanu, Tall Kefrein, Tall Nimrin, Tall Rama, and Khirbet Sweimeh. This article demonstrates that the better candidate for this site is Tall el-Hammam which boasts superior size, perfect location, abundant water, and Early Roman/Byzantine remains.
In this paper I demonstrate that in no instance in the OT does kikkar refer to a geographical-topographical feature other than the southern Jordan Valley, north of the Dead Sea, and areas contiguous with it.
Zoar is typically located near the southern tip of the Dead Sea. However, a careful analysis of key biblical passages signals that it must be outside the territories of Moab and Edom, which makes the southern Dead Sea location questionable. Zoar is designated as the southern boundary of the Reuben tribal allotment, and, therefore, should be placed somewhere near the Arnon Gorge, north of the Moabite Kingdom boundary.