Jericho

Jericho is a city located near the Jordan River in the West Bank of the Palestinian territories. It is the capital of the Jericho Governorate and has a population of more than 20,000. Situated well below sea level on an east-west route 16 kilometres (10 mi) north of the Dead Sea, Jericho is the lowest permanently inhabited site on earth. It is also believed to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world.

Demographics have varied widely depending on the dominant ethnic group and rule in the region over the past three thousand years. In a 1945 land and population survey by Sami Hadawi, 3,010 inhabitants is the figure given for Jericho, of which 94% (2840) were Arab and 6% (170) were Jews.

In the first census carried out by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), in 1997, Jericho's population was 14,674. Palestinian refugees constituted a significant 43.6% of the residents or 6,393 people. The gender make-up of the city was 51% male and 49% female. Jericho has a young population, with nearly half (49.2%) of the inhabitants being under the age of 20. People between the ages of 20 and 44 made up 36.2% of the population, 10.7% between the ages of 45 and 64, and 3.6% were over the age of 64.

Based on PCBS projections, Jericho presently has an Arab Palestinian population of over 20,000. The current mayor is Hassan Saleh, a former lawyer.

Jericho is one of the most ancient human habitations. The most ancient human remains were found in it, some of which go back to 5000 years B.C. Others believe that these remains go back to 7000 years B.C. The most recent opinion on this subject is that they date back to 8000 years B.C.

The site of ancient Jericho is half a kilometre away from modern Jericho at a depth of 820 feet ( 250 metres) below sea level. It lies at latitude 31 52 degrees north and longitude 35 39 degrees east.

The evidence indicating that it is one of the most ancient cities in the world is borne up by a series of excavations made at " Tall as-Sultan ", which is oval in shape, formed by the successive accumulation of ruins with the passing of time. Excavations have been continuing successively since the middle of the nineteenth century up till now.

The German-Austrian Mission in which the two archeologists E. Sellin and C. Watzinger worked, was the first one to be interested in uncovering the antiguities of Jericho, and that was in 1911. They were succeeded by the English, who conducted excavations at Tall as-Sultan under the supervision of first J. Garstang ( 1930-1936 ) and completed by Miss K. Kenyon ( 1952-1961 ). She published a resume of her work in two huge volumes ( 1960-1965 ). She is considered to be the greatest authority on this subject. She is the one to have estimated the age of the city to be 8000 years B.C. Its habitation certainly started about that time which undoubtedly makes it the most ancient known city in the world.

That is why it is probable that the most ancient civilization in the world did not appear in the Nile Valley or the Tigris and Euphrates Valley, but in the Jordan Valley. Dr. Kenyon gave the name of " Ariha al-Ula " ( The first Jericho ) to the first construction of the city which was sacked and destroyed as a result of invasions, earthquakes and fire time and again. Every time it was destroyed it rose once again on the ruins of the past Jericho. Kenyon and the archeologists who preceded her were able to distinguish between the successive periods Jericho passed through.