Jericho: Oldest City on Earth?
Magellan TV (2019)
This documentary explores the ancient history of Jericho, based on archeological remains and carbon dating.
Recent evidence suggests that the city of Jericho dates nearly to 10,000 BC. The first known settlement (10,000 – 9,000 BC) contains some of the earliest examples of domesticated plants and animals. It’s believed Jericho was originally founded by “affluent” hunter gatherers, who came across the regions abundant grain grasses when the last Ice Age receded. Cultural artifacts suggest they had extensive trading relationships with other communities throughout the fertile crescent, including Göbekli Tepa Turkey.
The next settlement at Jericho (8,500 – 7,300 BC) is referred to as the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A Settlement. It seems to have had a much stronger religious focus (with evidence both of the “mother goddess” and male animalistic gods. Residents still mostly relied on wild gazelle for meat, though there’s some evidence they ate sheep and goats. It’s not clear whether these animals were domesticated or if people caught them and kept them in pens before eating them. They also ate domesticated wheat, barley, peas, and beans.
This city was replaced by the larger Pre-Pottery Neolithic B settlement (7300 – 5800 BC), housing roughly 2,000 people. Here the homes were rectangular, with clear evidence of domesticated pigs, goats, sheep, and oryx. The residents engaged in ancestor worship. Some major natural catastrophe (flood?) depopulated all of Palestine around 6000 BC, with human settlement resuming in the 5th century BC. Archeologists believe that between 5800 and 4000 BC, the region’s residents were nomadic herders, continually moving domesticated animals between pastures rather than settling in specific region.
During Jericho’s copper period (4,000 – 3,000 BC), the settlement was more like a small village than a city. Residents imported their copper (and obsidian) from the region that is modern day Turkey.
During Jericho’s bronze age (3100 – 1400 BC), it was clearly a city again, with defensive walls, an army and evidence of written Mesopotamian and Egyptian language. The city lost its independence in 2000 BC and for three and a half centuries was occupied by multiple competing powers, including Egypt, Assyria, the Mittanites and other regional powers. In 1550 BC the city was destroyed and would not reappear as an urban center for 100 years.
In 1400 BC the city was destroyed once again during wars with Israelite tribes. This would be consistent with the Biblical account in the book of Exodus.