The Ancient Fortified City of Jericho
Written by arkwriter   
Saturday, 03 October 2009 03:51

The  Ancient  Fortified

City  of  Jericho

Jericho ranks second only to Jerusalem in the number of archaeological excavations because it contains some of the world's most important historic sites that are related to the Bible.  Jericho's contribution to civilization is unique. From the architectural and construction view point the walls and towers of Jericho even preceded the pyramids of Egypt. 

Facts   from   the   Archaeological   Excavations  



The first archaeological excavations of Tell-es-Sultan (ancient fortified city of Jericho) were made by Charles Warren in 1868. Ernst Sellin and Carl Watzinger excavated between 1907-1909 and in 1911. John Garstang excavated between 1930 and 1936. Extensive investigations using more modern techniques were made by Kathleen Kenyon between 1952 and 1958. Lorenzo Nigro and Nicolo Marchetti conducted a limited excavation in 1997. Later that same year, Dr. Bryant Wood also made a visit to the site to verify the findings of the earlier 1997 team.   

 One of the most significant discoveries of the archaeological excavations is the Neolithic tower on the western perimeter of the site. The word “Neolithic” refers to the Stone Age that is characterized by the development of settled agriculture and the use of polished stone tools and weapons. 

The Holy Bible informs us that “Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.” (Gen. 4:2) Cain’s son Enoch had built a city (Gen. 4;17). Tubal Cain, the eighth generation from Cain was “an instructor of every craftsman in bronze and iron.” (Gen. 5:22) Canaan is the grandson of Noah (Gen. 10:6). He and his descendants settled down in the land of Canaan and built the ancient city of Jericho (Gen. 10:19).


The two illustrations above are drawn to the same scale for the purpose of comparison in size.  The size of the excavated site is about 10 acres = 4 hectares, which is close to 7 city blocks in Houston, Texas. The length is 1,497 feet = 456 meters. The width is 525 feet = 160 meters. The height is 65 feet = 19.8 meters.

Wall   Construction   System 


The fortified city of Jericho had used the Double Redoubtable Wall construction system that was used to build fortresses in Europe during the Medieval Age.

Collapse   of    the   Wall  

Archaeological excavations indicate portions of the walls of the fortified city have collapsed outwards. The fallen mud bricks and the stone rubble had formed ramps for the invading Israelites to enter the city (Josh. 6:20).

In 1990 American archaeologist Dr. Bryant Wood wrote in Biblical Archaeology Review about his findings in Jericho. He mentioned that parts of the outer and inner wall had collapsed outwardly, which allowed the Israelites to enter the city. His conclusions based on studies of the devastation of the city are fascinating. "Was this destruction at the hands of the Israelites?" he wrote. "The correlation between the archaeological evidence and the Biblical narrative is substantial." He lists several points in favor of the biblical account (March-April 1990, p. 57):  
Dr. Bryant Wood shows collapsed mud bricks on the excavated site.

•        The city was well fortified (Joshua 2:5,7,15; 6:5,20).

•        The attack occurred just after the spring harvest (Joshua 2:6; 3:15; 5:10).

•        The inhabitants had no time or opportunity to flee with their foodstuffs (Joshua 6:1).

•        The siege was short (Joshua 6:15).

•        The walls were leveled, possibly by an earthquake (Joshua 6:20).

•        The city was not plundered (Joshua 6:17-18).

•        The city burned (Joshua 6:24).

All archaeologists agree that the wall fell down, but they differ on the date. Dr. Bryant Wood's conclusions are the most informed and he dated the destruction of the wall to the time of Joshua (1400 B.C.).

                Time   of   the   Fall   of   Jericho

The Bible tells us when Jericho fell. 1 Kings 6:1 states the fourth year of King Solomon's reign over Israel was 480 years after the Israelites left Egypt, or 440 years after they entered the Promised Land. Since Solomon's fourth year was about 960 B.C., Jericho's walls fell 440 years earlier, or about 1400 B.C. At the Jericho excavation site there is evidence that one level of the city's layers represents its destruction at about that time.

Dr Garstang, Director of the Department of Antiquities in Palestine, and his assistants examined over 100,000 potsherds (fragments of pottery) from the excavated site of Jericho and from these he dated the destruction of the city to the middle of the Late Bronze Age (c. 1400 BC in conventional dating). This corresponds to the biblical dating of Joshua and the Children of israel’s conquest of the fortified city of Jericho.   

There is a large grain supply found in the burnt debris of Jericho City IV. In fact, grain was the most abundant item found by professor Kenyon, apart from pottery.

'In her limited excavation area, Professor Kenyon recovered six bushels of grain in one season!... unique in the annals of Palestinian archaeology' wrote Dr Wood. The photograph on the right shows one of the storejars of grain that was discovered by Professor Kenyon during the excavation.  

Successful attackers would normally remove valuable grain after capturing a city. However the Israelites by divine command, were forbidden to take anything from Jericho. 'This could explain why so much grain was left to burn when City IV met its end,' wrote Dr Wood. For this amount of grain to have been stored, the city would have to have been destroyed in the spring of the year, shortly 'after harvest time, not before,' Dr wood emphasises.

This is precisely when the Bible says the Israelites attacked Jericho (Joshua 5:10). Rahab, for example, had been drying freshly harvested flax on the roof of her house in Jericho at the time (Josh. 2:6). The jars full of grain indicate 'that when the city met its end there was ample food supply,' wrote Dr Wood. This meant that Jericho had succumbed quickly, not after a long siege.

This is consistent with the biblical account that Jericho was destroyed after only seven days (Josh. 6: 15, 20). Evidence from radio-carbon dating also supports the conclusion that City IV was destroyed around 1400 B.C. One carbon-14 sample taken from a piece of charcoal found in the debris of City IV was dated to 1410 B.C.

Based on such findings, Dr Wood concludes: "The correlation between the archaeological evidence and the Biblical narrative is substantial.' This interpretation, if it survives critical appraisal, would be important to those who believe the Bible is historically accurate.

May God bless you

      This article was a presentation by Paul Wong

to the ARK Forum on March 7, 2006.

It was published on this Website on October 4, 2009

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Paul Wong is a Christian minister and the President of ARK International.
His ministry also serves as an architectural service company in Houston.
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Last Updated on Tuesday, 06 October 2009 03:18