Jericho, the city of the moon, is the lowest city on earth at 260 metres below sea level. At the same time, it is the oldest city in the world. A 20 minute walk takes you from present-day downtown Jericho to Tel es-Sultan, the site of the oldest settlement. It can be found next to the cable car station for going up to the Mount of Temptation. Once inside, you can see that excavations have been done on site. Unfortunately, the few signs that once clarified what you are seeing have since long been washed away by rain, so walking around the site requires working your imagination.
Anyway, much of the site still remains uncovered - or so it seems. You can walk almost anywhere, and climbing one of the many hills is quite exciting once you realize that under the soil under your feet there might be houses that are some 10,000 years old. Actually, the oldest houses would be in the lowest layer; as was custom, new cities were often built over existing ones: the resulting hill is called a "tel" in both Hebrew and Arabic. The reason for this was quite logical: the mud houses were susceptible to rain and would have to be rebuilt once a scarce flood had hit the area. Another requirement for a settlement, water, can still be found nearby at Ein es-Sultan: it is actually still being used for providing water to Jericho and makes it the oasis it is.
It has been established that 23 ancient civilizations called Tel es-Sultan home, and that it was the first city to be encircled by a wall, effectively making it a fortress city. Remains of the circular defensive stone tower can still be seen in one of the trenches of Tel es-Sultan. It was also discovered that ancient Jericho probably was the first civilization to grow crops and domesticate animals. With this information in mind, one can only walk around the ruins and over the soil with respect and a true sense of history on his mind.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Tel es-Sultan (Palestinian Territories). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Tel es-Sultan.
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