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For other meanings of the word Jericho, see: Jericho (disambiguation)
Jericho (Arabic أريحا Arīḥā; Hebrew יריחו, Standard Hebrew Yəriḥo, Tiberian Hebrew Yərḫ, Yərḥ) is a town in the West Bank, near the west bank of the Jordan River.

Table of contents
1 Biblical background
2 Prehistoric times
3 Tell es-Sultan
4 Bronze age
5 Tulul Abu el-'Alayiq
6 Current location
7 Archaeology
8 External links and references

Biblical background

Jericho is mentioned in the Jewish Hebrew Bible (the Christian Old Testament), over 70 times. Here are some examples:

Prehistoric times

Three separate settlements have existed at or near the current location for more than 11,000 years. The location was probably desirable on account of a supply of fresh water and a favorable position on an east-west route north of the
Dead Sea.

Tell es-Sultan

The earliest settlement was located at the present-day Tell es-Sultan (or Tell Sultan), a couple of kilometers from the current city. Arabic tell means "mound" -- consecutive layers of habitation built up a mound over time, as is common for ancient settlements in the Middle East and Anatolia. Jericho is the type site of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPN A) and B.

The habitation has been classed into several phases:


Proto-Neolithic -- construction at the site apparently began before the invention of agriculture, with construction of stone Natufian culture structures beginning earlier than 9000 BC.


Pre-Pottery Neolithic A, 8350 BC to 7370 BC. Sometimes called Sultanien. A four hectare settlement surrounded by a stone wall, with a stone tower in the centre of one wall. Round mud-brick houses. Use of domesticated emmer wheat, barley and pulses and hunting of wild animals.


Pre-Pottery Neolithic B, 7220 BC to 5850 BC (but 14C-dates are few and early). Expanded range of domesticated plants. Possible domestication of
sheep. Apparent cult involving the preservation of human skulls, with facial features reconstructed from plaster and eyes set with shells in some cases.

After the PPN A settlement-phase there was a settlement hiatus of several centuries, then the PPN B settlement was founded on the eroded surface of the tell. The architecture consisted of rectilinear buildings made of mudbricks on stone foundations. The mudbricks were loaf-shaped with deep thumb prints to facilitate bounding. No building has been excavated in it's entirety. Normally, several rooms cluster around a central courtyard. There is one big room (6.5 x 4 m and 7 x 3 m with internal divisions, the rest are small, presumably used for storage. The rooms have red or pinkish terrazzo-floors made of lime. Some impressions of mats made of reeds or rushes have been preserved. The courtyards have clay floors.

Kathleen Kenyon interpreted one building as a shrine. It contained a niche in the wall. A chipped pillar of volcanic stone that was found nearby might have fitted into this niche.

The dead were buried under the floors or in the rubble fill of abandoned buildings. There are several collective burials, not all the skeletons are completely articulated, which may point to a time of exposure before burial. A skull cache contained seven skulls. The jaws were removed, the face covered with plaster, cowries were used for eyes. All in all, ten skulls were found. Modelled skulls were found in Tell Ramad and Beisamoun as well.

Other finds:

Pottery neolithic A and B

4th millennium BC. Jericho was occupied during Neolithic 2 and the general character of the remains on the site link it culturally with Neolithic 2 sites in the West Syrian and Middle Euphrates groups. There are the rectilinear mud-brick buildings and plaster floors.

Bronze age

A walled town, continuously occupied until some time between 1580 BC and 1400 BC when it was destroyed.

The Biblical account of its destruction is found in the Book of Joshua

Tulul Abu el-'Alayiq

A later settlement spanned the Hellenistic, New Testament, and Islamic periods, leaving mounds located at Tulul Abu el-'Alayiq, 2 km west of modern er-Riha.

Current location

The present city was captured by Israel after the Six-Day War in 1967. It was the first city to be handed by Israel to the Palestinian Authority in 1994, in accordance with the Gaza and Jericho Agreement.


The first archaeological excavations of the site were made by Charles Warren in 1868. Ernst Sellin and Carl Watzinger excavated Tell es-Sultan and Tulul Abu el-'Alayiq between 1907-1909 and in 1911. John Garstang excavated between 1930 and 1936. Extensive investigations using more modern techniques were made by Kathleen Kenyon between 1952 and 1958.

External links and references

further reading