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Jericho is the lowest (258 meters below sea level) and the oldest city in the world.
Like its Arabic name ‘Ariha’, which means ‘the city of palm trees’, Jericho has a tropical atmosphere. Its population is about 23,000 (in 2016 by pcbs.com).
Because Jericho was the royal estate of Cleopatra, there remain many ancient ruins. That means Jericho is a ‘must’ to visit.
It gets very hot in summer, but warm in winter because of the low elevation. Jericho has been called ‘oasis in the desert’ as it’s located along the Jordan River, and always crowded with people during winter holiday season.
Agriculture is Jericho’s main industry as well as tourism. Most of the agricultural products sold in Palestine are from Jericho.
Especially Jericho dates are well known as one of the most delicious and luxury dates in the world.
History of Jericho
c. 10000 BC – 9000 BC
Natufian hunter-gatherer groups started to settle in Jericho for camping.
until c. 6th century
After several destroys and reconstructions, a town flourished at Tell es-Sultan.
Tell es-Sultan is said the oldest village surrounded by a wall.
Cyrus the Great, the Persian Achaemenid Empire, built a town at the latter place of Jericho. He let the Jews return to Palestine from the Babylonian captivity.
336 BC to 323 BC
Alexander the Great possessed Jericho as his private estate.
1st century BC
Fortresses were built during Seleucid Empire Era.
One of them is Wadi Qelt, which was rebuilt by Herod the Great (reign 37–4 BCE).
He built the Winter Palace and also the irrigation system, which grew Jericho as a center of agriculture, trading and a winter resort.
The Jews were defeated by the Roman Empire at the First Jewish–Roman War.
Once Jerusalem was conquered, Jericho became a Roman fortress, then the town declined.
Christianity became the state religion during Byzantine Empire era.
A town named Ericha was newly built, it grew as a Christian town.
The monastery of St. George of Choziba was constructed, but it was destroyed by Persians in 614.
Umayyad Caliphate conquered Jerusalem. Jericho became also under Islam power.
Hisham’s Palace was built north of Tell es-Sultan during the reign of Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik (reign 724 – 743 the 10th Umayyad caliph).
However, Hisham’s Palace was destroyed by an earthquake in 747. Umayyad Caliphate was defeated by Abbasid Caliphate.
until c. 10th century
Under Islamic Abbasid Caliphate and following Fatimid Caliphate, Jericho’s agriculture developed.
Jericho has a reputation for the cultivation of banana and dates since these periods.
The Crusades took Jerusalem from the Seljuk Turks. Palestine became under control of Christian power.
The Crusaders reconstructed the Monastery of St. George. They built churches in town, which accelerated Christianization in Jericho.
Saladin’s Egyptian Ayyubid force defeated the Crusaders.
Jericho then became again under Islam power.
The town gradually declined because of attacks by Bedouins or other forces.
Second half of the 19th century
European archaeologist started ruins excavation; Tell es-Sultan and the monastery of St. George of Choziba etc. were excavated during this period.
Beginning of the 20th century
The Ottoman Empire fell at World War I.
Like other Palestinian cities, Jericho became under control of the UK. However, the city stayed in peace until the foundation of Israel in 1948.
1948 to 1949
After the First Arab-Israeli War, like other cities in West Bank, Jericho became under control of Jordan.
The refugees triggered by the foundation of Israel fled to West Bank cities. Three refugee camps protecting over 70,000 people in total were built around Jericho, according to Palestine and Palestinians.
In 1952, Jordan formally annexed West Bank. Jericho citizens then got Jordanian nationality like other residents in West Bank.
Israel won the Six-Day War. They took and occupied West Bank.
The Oslo Accords including an agreement of reducing Israeli settlements were signed.
Palestinian Authority obtained the right of self-government of Jericho as their first city.
The Second Intifada occurred. Israel destroyed buildings and started tightening their control of Palestine.
Israeli troops withdrew from cities. Jericho is developing as a resort city for Palestinians and travelers.