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Definition: Jericho from Philip's Encyclopedia

Ancient city of Palestine, on the West Bank of the River Jordan, N of the Dead Sea. It is one of the earliest known sites of continuous settlement, dating from c.9000 bc. According to the Old Testament, Joshua captured Jericho from the Canaanites (c.300 BC). The city was destroyed and Herod the Great built a new city to the south. In 1993, following the Israel-PLO peace agreement, Jericho was selected as the centre for Palestinian self-rule. It lies in an agricultural area, producing citrus fruit and dates. Pop. (1997) 32,713.


Summary Article: Jericho
from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Town in the Jordan valley, west of the River Jordan and north of the Dead Sea, 24 km/15 mi northeast of Jerusalem; population (2005 est) 19,800. The site of the old city is the centre of a fertile district where palms, rose trees, grapes, and balsams are grown. It was occupied by Israel from 1967–94 when responsibility for its administration was transferred to the Palestinian National Authority, after the Israeli–Palestine Liberation Organization peace agreement in 1993. Jericho was settled by 8000 BC, and by 6000 BC had become a walled city with 2,000 inhabitants. It is claimed to be the site of the world's earliest known town, dating from around 9000 BC. Successive archaeological excavations since 1907 have shown 20 layers of settlement, and that the walls of the city were destroyed many times. In the Old Testament it was the first Canaanite stronghold captured by the Israelites, and its walls, according to the Book of Joshua, fell to the blast of Joshua's trumpets.

History According to the Bible narrative and other accepted authorities, the city was captured by the Israelites on their entry into Canaan, refortified by Hiel the Bethelite, destroyed under Vespasian, and rebuilt under Hadrian. Antony is said to have given its groves to Cleopatra, and Herod the Great dwelt there. In ancient times Jericho held a fairly important position strategically, dominating the chief trade routes of antiquity from Jerusalem towards the east. But it was too isolated to be able to rely in an emergency on the help of friendly cities, and consequently it was, from a very remote age, surrounded by defensive walls; both history and archaeology agree that the city was frequently destroyed.

Excavation of the walls Early in the 20th century, German excavators discovered the defensive ramparts of the old city of Jericho and their evidence, including the traces of destruction and of fire, seemed to corroborate the biblical story. Further investigation in 1920 showed that the stone rampart was of the Middle Bronze Age (c. 1800 BC), but the date of the inner wall was left to be established by Sir Charles Marston's expedition under Dr John Garstang, which proved that the inner wall belonged mainly to the late Bronze Age, the period of Joshua. The ruins of the walls are situated near the modern village of Ariha (Arabic form of Jericho), on a low mound at the foot of the western plateau. Cuttings made by Garstang, in June 1930, in the mound of old Jericho, revealed that the fortifications of Jericho represent an almost continuous occupation, twice broken by invasion between 2000 and 1600 BC, at which latter date the walls were reconstructed upon the brink of the mound, and these in their turn were destroyed by fire. The western side of the defences showed continuous signs of destruction and conflagration, the outer rampart (which is 2 m/6.5 ft thick) suffering most, its remains falling down the slope. The most important fact disclosed by Garstang was the traces of intense fire ‘including reddened masses of brick, cracked stones, charred timbers and ashes. Houses alongside the wall are found burned to the ground, their roofs fallen upon the domestic pottery within’. All these facts give strong support to the Bible narrative, making it probable that the fallen walls of the late Bronze Age are actually those of the city which is said to have been taken and burnt by the Israelites under Joshua. Evidence collected seems to prove the existence of civilization in Jericho 3000 years before the beginnings of Egypt and Sumeria. Neolithic fortifications would indicate the existence of enemies with similar standards.

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