Jun 19th 2009 By Kristin Romey
SODOM! The name evokes an act that's probably still illegal in a few states, as well as the main setting for Jack Black and Michael Cera's new movie "Year One
", in which our bumbling barbarians flail around the desert den of vice in order to a) zing some butt-sex jokes, b) save their lady friends and c) tell some more butt-sex jokes.
Director Harold Ramis tells Asylum that he had no problem putting Sodom -- aka a 6-acre compound of plywood and Styrofoam -- in the middle of Shreveport, La. "I had two ideas of what should be done with it when we left," he says. "Either a Christian Bible camp, or get a liquor or gaming license and open it up as a club." If Sodom, La., turns out to be a fashionable spot, Ramis has a tip for you: "You'll see more animal skins at the clubs for the next six months or so."
But did the real Sodom actually exist, and if so, why did it get such a bad rap? Find out, after the jump
The "classic" story of Sodom comes from the Book of Genesis
. To make a long story
really short, two angels disguised as travelers show up in town and are offered a place to stay. Suddenly, the men of Sodom surround their host's house and demand that the travelers be brought out, so that the Sodomites could "know" them. God gets pissed off at the townspeople for their behavior and destroys Sodom with fire and brimstone (John Martin's painting of the scene pictured above).
Here's the clincher: Everyone's still arguing about what the Sodomites meant by wanting to "know" the guests. According to scholars, the "Sin of Sodom" ranges from being merely inhospitable, to homosexuality, to bestiality.
So did Sodom really exist? Many archaeologists think it did, in Israel somewhere around the southern edge of the Dead Sea
, where they're digging up 4,000-5,000-year-old sites with massive layers of fiery destruction. Some researchers think Sodom's demise was due to an earthquake that released natural gas into the air. Meanwhile, lightning accompanying the earthquake would have set the entire region on fire
. Another theory claims an asteroid did it
Either way, no number of sacrificed virgins -- or Jack Black -- could have saved the Sodomites from such a mess.Kristin Romey is an anthropologist, explorer, former executive editor of Archeology Magazine and, most prestigiously, Asylum's scientific adviser.Click here to check out Moviefone's "Year One" interview with Jack Black and Michael Cera.