Jericho

Also known as Tell es-Sultan, er-Riha, Eriha, Yeriho

Jericho view from Cypros

View from Cypros

The "City of Palms" spreads out on the west side of the Jordan River at 825 feet below sea level.  

The Old Testament site of Tell es-Sultan is in the distance and is the city Joshua destroyed.  In Jesus' day a new center had been constructed on the wadi banks in the foreground by the Hasmonean rulers and Herod the Great.

 

Tell es-Sultan

After Jerusalem, Jericho is the most excavated site in Israel.  Charles Warren in 1868 sank several shafts but concluded that nothing was to be found (he missed the Neolithic tower by a meter!).  Germans Sellin and Watzinger excavated 1907-13, Garstang 1930-36 and Kenyon 1952-58.  An Italian-Palestinian team excavated for several years beginning in 1997.

Jericho Tell es-Sultan aerial

 

 

Neolithic tower at Jericho

Neolithic Tower

Discovered and excavated by Kathleen Kenyon in her Trench I, the Neolithic tower was built and destroyed in Pre-Pottery Neolithic A, which Kenyon dated to 8000-7000 BC.  The 8m diameter tower stands 8m tall and was connected on the inside of a 4m thick wall.  

On the basis of this discovery, archaeologists have claimed that Jericho is the "oldest city in the world."  Clearly such monumental construction reflects social organization and central authority, but there are good reasons to question both its dating to the 8th millennium BC. and its function as a defensive fortification.

 

MB Revetment Wall

From the excavations of Sellin and Watzinger, archaeologists have recognized the existence of a large revetment wall that supported the slope of the tell in the Middle Bronze Age.  

This revetment wall was composed of large Cyclopean stones and supported a mudbrick wall above it.  This southern portion of the wall was exposed in 1997.

Southern revetment wall of Jericho

 

Collapsed city wall with Bryant Wood

Collapsed MB Wall

Sellin and Watzinger and later Kenyon found remains of a collapsed mudbrick wall at the base of the stone revetment wall.  

Bryant Wood points to the base of that mudbrick wall.  All agree that the wall fell down, but they differ on the date.  Wood's conclusions are the most informed and they date the destruction of the wall to the time of Joshua (1400 BC).

 

Storejars of Grain

Both Garstang and Kenyon found dozens of storejars full of grain from the last Canaanite city of Jericho.  The obvious conclusion: these were from the time of the harvest when the city was burned (not looted) by Joshua. As such, the archaeological record fits the biblical record at this point precisely.  

The storejars pictured here still remain in one of Kenyon's balks at Jericho.

Grain storejars in Kenyon's balk at Jericho

 

Sycamore tree in Jericho

Sycamore Tree

"Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through it. Now a man named Zacchaeus was there; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. He was trying to get a look at Jesus, but being a short man he could not see over the crowd. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, because Jesus was going to pass that way" (Luke 19:1-4, NET Bible).

Related Websites

At BiblePlaces.com, see the related sites of the Dead Sea, En Gedi, Masada, Qumran, Qumran Caves, and the Judean Wilderness.

Jericho (Walking in Their Sandals)  Gives easy-to-read information on the location, biblical significance, etc.  Features links to photographs and on-line scripture references. 

Jericho (Christian Answers) A brief article discussing the veracity of the story of Jericho.

Historical Sites in and around Jericho (Jericho Municipality)  Describes many sites in the region, including, in some cases, details helpful for visiting in person.

History of Jericho (Jericho Municipality)  The history of Jericho told from an Arab perspective.  Extensive but reflects its anti-Israel bias, including in the section entitled, "The Israelite Invasion."

Jericho, city, West Bank.  (The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001.) A brief summary of historical, archaeological, and political facts.

Jericho (Christian Travel Study Program)  Limited text assumes factuality of at least two debatable points.

Jericho (Into His Own)  A brief, encyclopedia-type article with multiple links to related words and topics for further study.

The walls of Jericho: Archaeology confirms they really did come a-tumbliní down (Answers in Genesis Ministries)  This article by Bryant Wood presents a alternate interpretation of the archaeological findings at Jericho.  Illustrations serve to clarify his position.

Jericho by Don Jaques (Biblical Chronologist) An article by Wood responding to Bienkowski.

Jericho Archaeological Debate (NetTours) A summary of Wood's main points with objections, by Dr. Stephen Langfur. 

Jericho (Mysteries of the Bible)  A series of lectures by Michael Sanders.  (Note: Jericho is covered in parts 8-12 & 14.)

The Saga Of Ancient Jericho (ChristianCourier.com)  "A study of Joshua's great victory over the ancient city of Jericho" (their page description).

Old Testament Jericho (Personal Page, by Marshall Walter) Studies the various biblical events that take place in connection with Jericho.

Archaeology in Israel - Jericho (The Jewish Magazine)  A re-telling of the history of the site with a personal flavor.  Describes many sites in Jericho, not limited to the tel. 

Professor John Garstang (Palestine Exploration Fund)  A biographical sketch of the archaeologist who excavated Jericho in the 1930s. 

Dame Kathleen Mary Kenyon (Palestine Exploration Fund)  A biographical sketch of the archaeologist whose fame began with her work at Jericho.