JERICHO (Heb. יְרִיחוֹ), said to be one of the oldest fortified cities in the ancient Near East. It is identified with Tell al-Sulṭā, near the ʿ Ayn al-Sulṭān spring (Spring of Elisha), about 1 mi. (1½ km.) N.W. of modern Jericho (Ar. Arīḥā) and 4½ mi. (7 km.) W. of the Jordan on the road leading to Jerusalem. The tel, covering an area of about 8½ acres (34 dunams) is 65 ft. (20 m.) high and 820 ft. (250 m.) below sea level. Its warm climate and abundant waters made Jericho an oasis attracting settlers from prehistoric times. In 1868 Charles Warren excavated at the site but had a negative opinion of its archaeological potential. The first systematic examination of Jericho was conducted by E. Sellin and C. Watzinger in 1901–09. Extensive excavations were subsequently carried out by J. Garstang in 1930–36 and K. Kenyon in 1952–61. Jericho was first settled sometime during the eighth millennium B.C.E. and the material remains are of the Natufian culture. One structure has been identified as a possible cult place. The dwellings were probably huts or tents of semi-nomads. Two Neolithic sub-periods are distinguished at Jericho; their main difference is the absence of pottery in the first and its appearance in the second. The pre-pottery Neolithic period (seventh millennium) is characterized by irrigation farming and the development of major communal activities represented by the building of features said to be fortifications – though whether these actually served as fortifications has recently been contested by Bar-Yosef – and curvilinear houses built of plano-convex bricks (flat with curved tops). The "fortifications" of the town consist of a stone wall, 6½ ft. (2 m.) thick, to which a stone tower was attached, 30 ft. (9 m.) high and 28 ft. (8½ m.) in diameter with an inner staircase leading to the top of the wall. For this phase radiocarbon (14C) tests of organic material established a date of 6850±210 B.C.E., i.e., between 7060 and 6640 B.C.E. Following the destruction of this town, a new one was built on its ruins and also enclosed by a stone wall erected on new foundations. Rectangular-shaped houses, of elongated mud-bricks, contained plastered floors colored red or yellow and burnished to a high polish. On several were found impressions of rush mats once spread on them. Several structures from this level may have served as public buildings or perhaps temples. Eleven building phases and 22 superimposed plastered floors were distinguished in this city. Throughout its long history, the settlers had no knowledge of the art of manufacturing
Jericho is mentioned in the Onomasticon of Eusebius (fourth century) and was depicted as a flourishing city on the Madaba Map (sixth century) where the well, which supplied the ancient city with water, is shown as a church and called the "Spring of Elisha" (τὸ τ[οῦ] άγι[οῦ] ʾ Ελισαίου). This according to tradition was the site of the story of Elisha in the Bible (II Kings 2:19–22) who was called upon to deal with the purification of the contaminated spring by casting a vessel with salt into the waters. According to Josephus, Elisha "went out to this spring and cast into the stream an earthen ware full of salt, and then, raising his righteous right hand to heaven and pouring propitious libations upon the ground, he besought the earth to mollify the stream and to open sweeter channels…" (Wars, 4:460–65). The spring is known today as Ayn al-Sulṭān. It seems that by the seventh century Jericho was again in ruins but Jewish refugees from the tribe of Banu *Nadir fled there from before Muhammad. A new synagogue arose on the site of the Byzantine one and the Masoretes mention a "Jericho Codex" existing there. With the Islamic conquest, a palace was built in 724 C.E. at Khirbat Mafjar nearby ("Hisham's Palace"). Excavations in 1935 by R.W. Hamilton brought to light beautiful mosaics and carvings there. By 891 Jericho was the district capital of the Ghauer (cleft of the lower Jordan; Ya ʿ kūbī, 113) and by the early Middle Ages was important for the production of indigo and sugar cane (Yākūt, 3:823, 913). It was captured by the Crusaders in 1099 and used by Raymond IV, count of Toulouse, as an encampment when his rival Godfrey de Bouillon gained Jerusalem. Queen Melisande endowed the whole of Jericho and its surrounding lands to her newly established convent of St. Lazarus (at Bethany) in 1147 and fortified Jericho with a tower. It was recaptured by Saladin without a struggle in 1187. The present Jericho is on the site of the Crusader town. Close by is the site of ancient *Dok, on the summit of which is the Byzantine Monastery of the Temptation (Qarantal) where Jesus was said to have fasted for forty days and nights (cf. Math. 4:1–5; hence its medieval name, Mons Quarantana). The Knights Templar built a fortress on the summit, called Castellum Dok, and the monastery was granted the tithes of Jericho city and the rights of the sugar mills in 1136. At the foot of the hill are the remains of three Crusader sugar mills (one nearly intact) which were referred to as early as 1116. They were driven by water systems originally built by Herod and repaired by the Crusaders. Nearby a Crusader building for boiling the sugar is in a good state of preservation. The town itself was practically uninhabited from then until the 19th century.
[Nachman Avigad /
Shimon Gibson (2nd ed.)]
In the last two centuries, Jericho's population figures greatly fluctuated. In 1840 the troops of the Egyptian Governor Ibrahim Pasha razed the town before leaving the country. Jericho was again destroyed in a conflagration (1871). In 1918 Allenby secured the eastern front of the allies by the capture of Jericho from the Turks. From the beginning of the 20th century, the town expanded and in the 1940s had about 3,000 inhabitants. Included in Jordanian territory after the Israel *War of Independence (1948) the town suddenly grew when camps of Arab refugees from Israel were set up there and in the vicinity. The occupation of Jericho and the nearby Jordan banks and bridges on June 7, 1967, by Israel troops practically concluded the *Six-Day War fighting on the West Bank. Along with tropical, irrigated oasis-type farming (with date palms and pomegranates prominent, to which bananas, citrus, fodder crops, and certain tropical species, were later added), winter tourism and recreation developed, particularly from the 1950s, as an additional source of income. While shortly before the Six-Day War the Jordanian authorities estimated the population of Jericho and its surroundings at a total of 80,000, the 1967 Israel census indicated 6,837 persons in the town proper, of whom over 90% were Muslims, and less than 10% (539) Christians; within the municipal confines, 1,619 lived in a refugee camp. The surrounding area contained 2,000 inhabitants. Most refugee camps were abandoned during the fighting of June 1967 and their inhabitants crossed the Jordan River. By the end of 1967, the number of inhabitants had further decreased. In 1994 it became the first West Bank town to be handed over to the *Palestinian Authority by Israel in the framework of the Declaration of Principles (see *Israel, State of, under Historical Survey), and subsequently served as a detention area for the Palestinian prisoners released to the Authority by Israel. In 1997 the population of Jericho included 14,674 residents, among them 43.6% refugees.
Two and a half mi. (4 km.) east of Jericho a 2,000-acre farm school for refugee boys and orphans was established in 1951 and directed by the Palestinian Arab leader Mūsā al- ʿ Alami. Its maintenance was aided by the Ford Foundation and other international bodies. The school utilized a method, developed before 1948 by the kibbutz *Bet ha-Aravah, of reducing the high salt content of the soil by flushing it with sweet water.
[Efraim Orni /
Shaked Gilboa (2nd ed.)]
E. Sellin and C. Watzinger, Jericho (1913); J. Garstang, The Story of Jericho (1948); Kelso and Baramki, in: AASOR, 19–30 (1955); Pritchard, ibid., 32–33 (1958); H.H. Rowley, From Joseph to Joshua (1958); K.M. Kenyon et al., Jericho, 2 vols. (1960–65); Aharoni, Land, index; EM, 3 (1965), 839–60; Press, Ereẓ (1952), 459–62; EḥA, 1 (1970), 243, 259; G. Le Strange, Palestine Under the Moslems (1940), 1855; M. Benvenisti, The Crusaders in the Holy Land (1970), index; S. Runciman, History of the Crusades, 3 vols. (1951–54). ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: K.M. Kenyon, Digging Up Jericho (1957); O. Bar-Yosef, "The Walls of Jericho: An Alternative Explanation," in: Current Anthropology, 27 (1986), 157–62; P. Bienkowski, "Jericho in the Late Bronze Age (1986); idem, "Jericho Was Destroyed in the Middle
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.