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Jericho is believed to be the oldest city in the world. It is situated next to the bunks of River Jordan, in Palestinian West Bank territories. Jericho borders Mt. Nebo in the east, as well as, the Central Mountains in the west (Kaiser, 2009). It also borders the Dead Sea in the south. River Jordan continues to be an important source of water for domestic and irrigation in Jericho.
Jericho was the first city to be captured in Canaan by the Biblical Joshua at the end of the Israelites’ forty year’s stay in the desert. The walls of Jericho collapsed after Joshua’s troops matched around it seven times (Kaiser, 2009). Jericho was later taken over by the Babylonians, but was reconstructed after the return of the Jews from their exile. The old city was destroyed by the Romans in the first century. However, it was later reconstructed by the Byzantines. The glory of the city was restored for a while when Caliph Hisham’s winter palace was constructed in 743 BC (Hirst, 2010). Four years later, the whole city was destroyed by earthquake. Jericho was subsequently ruled by the Crusaders, but was later taken over by Saladin. Even though the UN allocated Jericho to Arabs, it became under the control of Jordan following the end of 1948 war.
Culture and Art
The Natufians’ culture was the first in Jericho’s Tell-es-Sultan area. The Natufians made, and used tools using stones and animal bones. They were mainly hunters who depended on wild goats for food. The Natufians also harvested the wheat that grew around the Ein-es-Sultan spring. The Pre-Pottery Neolithic (A) (PPNA) culture developed around 8,000 BC (Hirst, 2010). This culture was characterized by hunters who, also, domesticated sheep, goats, and grew wheat. Using adobe bricks and mud, the PPNA community constructed, and lived in dome-shaped, single-roomed huts. Such huts are still being constructed by peasants. The PPNA village had a watch tower and was surrounded by a wall. They spoke a language referred to as Proto-Afro-Asiatic (Kaiser, 2009). Unlike the PPNA people, the PPNB community lived in square houses. Their culture was associated with paintings and ceremonial dances.
The communities that followed the PPNB people constructed, and lived in pit-houses. Stones and adobe were later used to construct houses. Pottery emerged in Jericho after the late Stone Age. During the Late Bronze period, Jericho was simply a small village which never had walls (Kaiser, 2009). However, the Hazor settlement had a wall and an expansive palace. The fortress of Cypros acted as a Christian Monastery for 300 years after the death of King Herod. Islam became prominent in Jericho after it was conquered by Muslims in 650 AD. Christianity, too, developed in Jericho as “Christian pilgrims continued to arrive in Jericho up to as late as 1480” (Kaiser, 2009). Today some of the cultural artifacts, especially, ancient buildings still exits. The present-day Jericho is under the control of Palestinians, and is occupied by about 17,000 people. Muslim culture dominates the current Jericho.
Importance to History
Jericho is important in the history, and development of Christianity due to its association with past events in Christianity. To begin with, John the Baptist was baptized in Jericho’s River Jordan. Joshua who led the Israelites from the desert miraculously brought down the walls of Jericho to demonstrate the power of God (Kaiser, 2009). It is also in Jericho where Prophet Elisha sweetened the water in Sultan’s spring. Jericho was visited by Jesus who preached in various synagogues.
Jericho also holds important tourism sites which are manifestations of ancient civilization. Such sites include the Tel e-Sultan where ancient buildings which had the first staircases were built. The “remains of sugar mills which were built by the crusaders in the 11th century” (Kaiser, 2009) are signs of ancient civilization.