Jericho (city, West Bank)

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Jericho (city, West Bank)

Jericho (jĕr´Ĭkō) [Heb.,=fragrant, or city of the moon god], Arab. Ariha, town (2003 est. pop. 19,000), West Bank, in the Jordan valley N of the Dead Sea; nearby is the site of the ancient city of Jericho. Jericho is an oasis watered by a number of springs, and the town is surrounded by orchards and intensive market gardening; a large part of the population is engaged in agriculture. Jericho was the first Arab town in the West Bank to become (1994) autonomous under the agreement between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization. The town saw increasing development after the agreement; a casino opened in 1998, and the nearby Mount of Temptation (the traditional site of Jesus' temptation by Satan) is now accessible by cable car. The economy suffered, however, when Palestinian-Israeli violence again flared beginning in 2000.

According to the biblical book of Joshua, Jericho was captured from the Canaanites by Joshua and was destroyed, an event several times repeated in its history. One of its conquerors was Herod the Great, who sacked and rebuilt it. Later it was taken by the Muslims. Jericho figures prominently in the Bible. Excavations of the mound of Tell es Sultan, the original site, were begun early in the 20th cent. and have revealed the oldest known settlement in the world, dating perhaps from c.8000 BC Archaeologists have not found evidence of the town of Joshua; ruins identified as such in the 1930s were latter identified as older. At the nearby site of Herodian Jericho, 2 mi (3.2 km) S of Tell es Sultan, a Hellenistic fortress and the palace of Herod have been excavated.

See J. Garstang and J. B. E. Garstang, The Story of Jericho (1948); K. M. Kenyon, Digging Up Jericho (1958) and Excavations at Jericho, Vol. 1 (1960).

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