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Jericho in Wikipedia
Jericho (Arabic: أريحا Ārīḥā [ʔśˈriːħɑː] ( listen)); Hebrew: יְרִיחוֹ Yəriḥo [jeʁiˈħo] ( listen) is a city located near the Jordan
River in the West Bank of the Palestinian Territories. It is the capital of the Jericho Governorate, and has a population of over
20,000. Situated well below sea level on an east-west route 16 kilometres (10 mi) north of the Dead Sea, Jericho is the lowest
permanently inhabited site on earth. It is also believed to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities of the world.
Described in the Hebrew Bible as the "City of Palm Trees", copious springs in and around Jericho have made it an attractive site for
human habitation for thousands of years. It is known in Judeo-Christian tradition as the place of the Israelites' return from
bondage in Egypt, led by Joshua, the successor to Moses. Archaeologists have unearthed the remains of over 20 successive settlements
in Jericho, the first of which dates back to 11,000 years ago (9000 BCE).
Jericho's Arabic name, Ārīḥā, means "fragrant" and derives from the Canaanite word Reah, of the same meaning. Jericho's
name in Hebrew, Yəriḥo, is also thought to derive from that root, though an alternate theory holds that it is it derived from the
word meaning "moon" (Yareah) in Canaanite, as the city was an early center of worship for lunar deities.
Ancient times -
French medieval image of the Biblical Battle of Jericho.
Jericho is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, with evidence of settlement dating back to 9000 BCE,
providing important information about early human habitation in the Near East.
The first permanent settlement was built near the Ein as-Sultan spring, between 10000 and 9000 BCE, by the Canaanite people, and
consisted of a number of walls, a religious shrine, and a 23-foot (7.0 m) tower with an internal staircase. After a few centuries,
it was abandoned for a second settlement, established in 6800 BCE, perhaps by an invading people who absorbed the original
inhabitants into their dominant culture. Artifacts dating from this period include ten skulls, plastered and painted so as to
reconstitute the individuals' features. These represent the first example of portraiture in art history, and it is thought that
these were kept in people's homes while the bodies were buried. This was followed by a succession of settlements from 4500 BCE
onward, the largest of these being constructed in 2600 BCE.
Archaeological evidence indicates that in the latter half of the Middle Bronze Age (circa 1700 BCE), the city enjoyed some
prosperity, its walls having been strengthened and expanded. The Canaanite city (Jericho City IV) was destroyed c.1573 BCE
according to the carbon dating between 1617 and 1530, but rounded as c.1550 according to the stratigraphical dating. The site
remained uninhabited until the city was refounded in the 9th century BCE.
In the 8th century BCE, the Assyrians invaded from the north, followed by the Babylonians, and Jericho was depopulated between 586
and 538 BCE, the period of the Jewish exile to Babylon. Cyrus the Great, the Persian king, refounded the city one mile southeast of
its historic site at the mound of Tell es-Sultan, and returned the Jewish exiles after conquering Babylon in 539 BCE.
Classical antiquity -
Jericho went from being an administrative center under Persian rule, to serving as the private estate of Alexander the Great between
336 and 323 BCE after his conquest of the region. In the middle of the 2nd century BCE, Jericho was under Hellenistic rule, and the
Syrian General Bacchides built a number of forts to strengthen the defenses of the area around Jericho against invasion by the
Macabees (1 Macc 9:50). One of these forts, built at the entrance to Wadi Qelt, was later refortified by Herod the Great, who named
it Kypros after his mother.
Herod originally leased Jericho from Cleopatra after Mark Antony gave it to her as a gift. After their joint suicide in 30 BCE,
Octavian assumed control of the Roman empire and granted Herod free rein over Jericho. Herodís rule oversaw the construction of a
hippodrome-theater (Tel es-Samrat) to entertain his guests and new aqueducts to irrigate the area below the cliffs and reach his
winter palace built at the site of Tulul al-Alaiq.
The dramatic murder of Aristobulus III in a swimming pool at Jericho, as told by the Roman Jewish historian Josephus, took place
during a banquet organized by Herod's Hasmonean mother-in-law. The city, since the construction of its palaces, functioned not only
as an agricultural center and as a crossroad, but as a winter resort for Jerusalem's aristocracy.
Herod was succeeded by his son, Archelus, who built an adjacent village in his name, Archelais, to house workers for his date
plantation (Khirbet al-Beiyudat). First century Jericho is described in Strabo's Geography as follows:
Jericho is a plain surrounded by a kind of mountainous country, which in a way, slopes toward it like a theatre. Here is the
Phoenicon, which is mixed also with all kinds of cultivated and fruitful trees, though it consists mostly of palm trees. It is 100
stadia in length and is everywhere watered with streams. Here also are the Palace and the Balsam Park."
The rock cut tombs of a Herodian and Hasmonean era cemetery lie in the lowest part of the cliffs between Nuseib al-Aweishireh and
Jebel Quruntul in Jericho and were used between 100 BCE and 68 CE.
The Christian Gospels state that Jesus passed through Jericho where he healed one or two blind beggars and inspired a
local chief tax collector named Zacchaeus to repent of his dishonest practices. The road between Jerusalem and Jericho is the setting
for the Parable of the Good Samaritan
After the fall of Jerusalem to Vespasian armies in 70 CE, Jericho declined rapidly, and by 100 CE it was but a small Roman garrison
town. A fort was built there in 130 that played a role in putting down the Bar Kochba revolt in 133. Accounts of Jericho by a
Christian pilgrim are given in 333. Shortly thereafter, the built-up area of the town was abandoned, and a Byzantine Jericho, Ericha
was built a mile (1 1⁄2 km) to the east, around which the modern town is centered. Christianity took hold in the city during the
Byzantine era and the area was heavily populated. A number of monasteries and churches were built, including St. George of Koziba in
340 CE and a domed church dedicated to Saint Eliseus. At least two synagogues were also built in the 6th century CE. The
monasteries were abandoned after the Persian invasion of 614.
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