Ancient Jericho (9000 B.C. - 6800 B.C.)
It is important to keep in mind when studying ancient people and places, that dates are very subjective.
One just needs to do slight research to see that dates from one
archaeologist may vary by hundreds, or even thousands of years from
In part, this is due to the improved dating technology from one excavation to the next, yet, this is not always the case.
It is not the intention of this site to offer dates as exact dates when they are in contention.
Rather, the different dates are used to encourage one to form
his/her own opinion, when viewed in context with archaeological finds,
the Biblical record, and other resources.
Jericho fits this category. Kathleen Kenyon is recognized as one of the top experts on ancient Jericho.
Her findings revealed the city was inhabited during four
consecutive periods throughout the Epipaleolithic and Neolithic (the two
ages overlap) Age.
It has been suggested that even at this early date, the racial makeup of these people were completely mixed.
Despite the controversy of dating some events, it is widely
agreed upon that by 7500 B.C. ancient Jericho was firmly established in
the Jordan River valley.
The ancient site of this time covered 6 acres, and was heavily fortified by a wall with immense round towers made of stone.
The economy of this time was in a transition from one of
gathering food, to an economy of producing food. The earliest
inhabitants are known as the An -Natifiyyun. These people relied on
gathering wild seeds for food. It is unlikely that they planted these
seeds, but rather harvested them using tools.
These tools included scythes with flint edges and straight bone
handles. They used stone mortars with handles to grind the seeds. Some
of the An-Natifiyyun lived in nearby caves. Others lived in primitive
villages, excelling in architecture.
Over the course of time, they learned how to make sun-dried bricks, and began to build more substantial dwellings.
These dwellings were round huts, constructed from flat-bottomed bricks, which curved at the higher edge.
Canals were dug from ancient Jericho to the nearby Ein Al-Sultan
spring. These canals provided ample supplies of water for residential
As their economy progressed, they used these canals to irrigate their fields.
They constructed walls 6.56 feet (2m) in width to surround and enclose their villages.
Within these walls they erected a massive tower, 29.53 feet (9m)
in diameter, and 32.1 feet (10m) in height. A staircase lead from the
top of the tower to the town below.
These are some of ancient Jericho's oldest ruins.
These walls predate the Egyptian pyramids by 4,000 years. The staircase is the oldest known staircase in the world.
These remains make ancient Jericho the oldest fortified city in history.
As the An-Natifiyyun progressed, they diversified their economy.
Agriculture was still the mainstay of the way of life in ancient Jericho.
However, they also domesticated animals, made chains and mats
through early weaving methods, and hunted animals with spears and
Hatchets used for cutting down tree branches have also been
uncovered. As their technology improved, groups began leaving old
settlements behind in an effort to expand their boundaries through new
Pre-Clay Age Jericho - The Second Neolithic Age (5500 B.C.)
The construction of houses in this period showed tremendous
progress. Stone was used to lay the foundation, and the rest of the
building was constructed of sun-dried brick. These bricks, however, were
rectangular in shape, with sharpened edges.
The floor was made of a mud layer topped by a layer of lime. On
top of this, they put a layer of soft lime, either dyed red or light
blue, then polished the floor to attain a new gleam.
The houses of this time varied in size, some standing at one story, others were two stories.
The smaller "apartments" had rooms which measured 9.84 ft. (3m)
by 22.97 ft. (7m). The larger dwellings had rooms which stood 21.3 ft
(6.5m) by 16.4 ft. (5m).
The houses were typically rectangular in shape, built around an
open yard. The yard was 22.97 ft. long by 22.97 ft. wide, and was used
for cooking. The walls were just over a foot and a half thick (1/2m).
The ceilings were made of reeds and mud.
Sharp-edged flint tools were found to be in use during this period of ancient Jericho.
Small statues were created using sun-baked mud, and these
possessed a religious implication. Fertility goddess worship may be
indicated by female statues.
Archaeological finds have found evidence of ancestor worship as
well. Nine skulls were found with painted faces, using lime, and two
mother-of-pearls placed on the faces of each skull.
SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON JERICHO.
Did you know Jericho was such an ancient city? Have you ever visited,
or lived, in Jericho? Click on the above link to give us your insights,
thoughts, comments, and questions!
The Late Neolithic Age Jericho (5000 B.C. - 4000 B.C.)
The people living in ancient Jericho during this time, according
to Kenyon, were marauders from the outside. These people may have been
They settled at Tell es-Sultan, and even though no remains of
their homes have been found, digs have produced looms, jasper beads, and
mother-of-pearls dating from this era.
Special vaults were used to bury their dead in groups. Skulls of prominent men were kept in mausoleums.
Their remains have been closely studied, and have shown that the
average lifespan of males from this age was 35. Some males reached 50,
but this was indeed rare.
During the early part of this age, these people lived in pits, and relied on agriculture and domestication of animals.
Pottery has been found dating back to 4500 B.C., yet it was very
primitive and rough. They used this pottery in the construction of their
As the age progressed, people became much more advanced and
sophisticated than their predecessors. They lived in clay huts, and
manufactured much more sophisticated forms of pottery.
Their dwellings were enclosed in massive walls, and perhaps housed as many as 2,000 residents.
Chalcolithic Age Jericho (4000 B.C. - 3300 B.C.)
No evidence of ancient Jericho being inhabited at this time
exists. Archaeologists point to two discoveries to support this theory.
One of these discoveries is of a disintegrated layer of organic
matter accrued on the Tell from this period, signifying the absence of
activity in and around the city.
Also, no remains have been discovered from this time.
Metal was used for the first time during this era.
Author Rafael Ruppin dives into some of the most captivating and
intriguing documents ever unearthed! Amazon.com presents The Jericho
Scrolls. These 1,900 year old recollections of Julius Antigonos, a Roman
Knight and Jewish Leader, shed invaluable light on the history of
Israel. These documents were found buried in a leaden chest and sealed
with tar from the Dead Sea. The Jericho Scrolls are a must have for fans
of the ancient Near East! Click on the link below to re-direct to
Amazon.com and view The Jericho Scrolls!
The Jericho Scrolls
Early Canaanite Age (3150 B.C.- 2200 B.C.)
Early Bronze Age I Jericho (3300 B.C. - 3000 B.C.)
Beginning between 3200 B.C. - 3000 B.C., several large, and
heavily fortified towns appeared in ancient Jericho alongside the
These towns appeared mostly along the coastal plains, or in the great valleys, wherever water was most abundant.
Ample water supplies, and fertile land, led to the development of these huge cities, with walls up to 30 feet thick.
Habitation resumed round 3200 B.C. Tombs have been uncovered in,
and around, Jericho from this time which suggest strange burial customs
One grave, in particular, dates back to 3260 B.C. One hundred and
thirteen skulls were found in this grave, arranged around the chamber
of the tomb. At the center rested a mound of burnt bones.
Some skulls contained evidence of scorching, but not burning.
Archaeologists use this scorching, rather than the typical burning, to
indicate strange and methodical practices associated with burial.
Reconstructions of this grave indicate that the bodies of the
dead were first placed in the open, and allowed to decompose until the
flesh separated itself from the bones.
The skeletons were then gathered together; the skulls arranged symmetrically around the chamber, with the faces pointing inside.
The rest of the bones were placed in a mound, in the center of
the room, and then set on fire. When the heap of bones cooled down, the
funeral offerings were then made, and placed in the grave. Stone chips
were then placed on top of the burnt bones.
This grave is unique in ancient Jericho when compared to other sites from the same time in
and Trans-Jordan. Little else is known of these people from this time.
Early Bronze Age II Jericho (3000 B.C. - 2700 B.C.)
The EB II period saw much prosperity and advancement in Palestine and Trans-Jordan.
In ancient Jericho, solid and sizable houses were built. A sanctuary was also built, similar to others found in Megiddo and Ai.
These structures were enveloped within a defense wall built
around the city. Jericho, as did the other cities in Palestine,
possessed immense and massive fortifications.
Politically, Palestine was a collection of independent city states at this time, with each city under the control of one King.
The presence of massive defense walls suggests that these independent city-state Kings frequently attacked each other.
The walls of Jericho from this time attest to that theory. Over
the course of a 600 year period, beginning around 2900 B.C.E., the walls
of Jericho were rebuilt sixteen times.
Invaders are not the only cause of this, as earthquakes, water in
the foundations, and other natural causes played a role in the constant
maintenance of the city defense structures.
However, outside attackers frequently raided the city. Evidence
of fire and destruction are evident among the ruins and remains of
Jericho and its walls.
Evidence of repair and rebuilding are present as well. The people
of this time, though flourishing technologically and culturally, led a
life of very little peace.
Despite the frequent fighting amongst the city-states, Jericho
shows signs of a highly cultured and urbanized center. Pottery utensils
point to an extensive trade network Jericho had set up with its
prove an international trade existed.
The presence of other urbanized centers in Megiddo and Ai point
to the cultural and social advancements that took place throughout
Palestine in this era.
This prosperity, however, was about to come to an abrupt end.
Bedouin raiders swept through ancient Jericho, destroying everything in
Walls dating back to this period show hasty and careless
construction, almost as if they were caught by surprise, and attempted
to repair, or erect, defense walls which had been previously neglected.
Perhaps the prosperity led to complacency. Whatever the cause,
these Bedouin raiders were swift, and destructive, and Jericho fell into
the hands of Bedouin tribes.
Early Bronze III (2700 B.C. - 2200 B.C.) and Early Bronze IV (2200 B.C. - 2000 B.C.)
Not much is known about ancient Jericho from 2700 B.C. to 2400
B.C. However, between 2400 B.C., and 2000 B.C., a dramatic reduction of
settlements occurred in Palestine.
Almost every site was either abandoned totally, or settled on a reduced scale, and Jericho was no exception.
Archaeologists point to a number of factors. A climate change
occurred, which produced far drier conditions than earlier. The result
was a severe recession in agriculture.
Domesticated animals lived on the very bare necessities, as good grazing land became hard to find.
Bedouin invaders took advantage of the lack of serious defense
structures, as noted above, and raided villages and cities frequently.
Jericho in Question
Starting around 2100 B.C., chronologies vary widely as to the
Exodus and conquest by Joshua and the Israelites. Central to this
problem is the dating of their arrival in ancient Jericho.
For every archaeologist that claims Jericho's remains do not
match the Biblical account, there is another one who either claims it
does, or offers a different chronology.
Serious scholars and historians place the Exodus and the conquest
of Joshua in either the fifteenth century B.C., or the thirteenth
century B.C. Neither date can be proven with absolute certainty.
The first step in any attempt to correlate the Bible with dates, is to begin with the account of the subject in question.
Back to Top of Ancient Jericho
Back to Jericho
Back to Home Page
Are You an Archaeologist? Student of the Bible? Lover of History?
Jericho is a hotly debated topic amongst archaeologists and Biblical scholars. What are your thoughts, questions, opinions regarding Jericho and the archaeology behind this ancient city? Have you visited Jericho? Post your pictures here as well!