Ancient city of Jericho marks 10,000 years

During its long 10,000 years, Jericho has seen much. If the city's ancient stones could talk, they would fill several libraries with their stories.

jericho (photo credit: Travelujah)
(photo credit: Travelujah)

The ancient city of Jericho is literally older than history itself. Recorded history started in the 4th millenium BC with the advent of written language. By that time, Jericho had already existed as an ancient walled city for 4,000 years.

During its long 10,000 years, Jericho has seen much. If the city's ancient stones could talk, they would fill several libraries with their stories. Empires have come and gone, but still the ancient city of Jericho thrives as an oasis in a dry and arid region.

Elisa Moed at entrance to Ancient JerichoElisa Moed at entrance to Ancient Jericho

Elisa Moed, CEO , at the entrance to ancient Jericho

In many ways, Jericho is the very symbol of man's transition from a wandering, nomadic society that relied solely on hunting and gathering to a settled existence made possible by the discovery of agriculture. In other words, the building of ancient Jericho's walls in roughly 8,000 BC marks the change from a wild existence to civilization. That this symbol still exists as a living city is nothing short of astonishing.

To mark this incredible anniversary, the Palestinian Authority has decided to invest heavily in the redevelopment of Jericho as a tourism hub. Plans include new resorts, an airport and even a 1,000-acre palm tree forest. Much of the funding will come from private companies, like the Palestine Development and Investment Limited, which will reportedly put an estimated $500 million toward various projects.

Joseph Sahouri, International Relations Coordinator for the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, told Travelujah, that the vision is to "create a wide-ranging developmental momentum in the ancient Jericho region that corresponds to, and tackles the untapped potential of the city in all its outstanding historical, cultural, natural, religious aspects."

The foundations for achieving that are already in place. As noted on the Jericho 10,000 website, the city is "characterized by a warm semi-tropical climate, the city teems with life, utilizing its abundant natural resources: water springs, fertile earth, and hospitable people." In short, a perfect vacation destination, especially for those interested in history.

The work that has already started in Jericho is bearing fruit. The number of annual visitors to the city was up 16 percent from 2009 to 2010. More importantly, visitors are increasingly staying in Jericho overnight and spending more days in the ancient city. Overnights in Jericho were up by over 70 percent during the same time period.

There remains much work to be done, and the political climate in the region does not always lend itself to rapid progress, but there is little doubt that Jericho possesses enormous potential to become one of the world's premier tourist attractions. After all, mankind has deemed the location a prime place to live for at least 10,000 years. No other city in the world can say that.

Walls uncovered at Ancient Jericho (Tel Sultan)Walls uncovered at Ancient Jericho (Tel Sultan)

Photo Courtesy Sami Khoury, ABS Tourism 

Sidebar - Ancient Jericho and the surrounding area are rich with tourism treasures

Qarantal,  a Greek Orthodox monastery, is situated on the Mount of Temptation, and is the place where Jesus fasted for 40 days and was tempted by Satan and where Jesus rejects three proposals and is directed by the spirit of God (Mark 1:12-13, Matthew 4:1-11, Luke 4:1-13) agree. A cable car brings people from the lowest city on earth up to the cliffs near the monastery.

Qarantal - Mt. of TemptationQarantal - Mt. of Temptation

Photo courtesy Sami Khoury, ABS Tourism

Hisham's Palace, a 6th century winter retreat built by the Umayyad empire boasts one of the most expansive mosaic floors ever discovered. Much of the floor has not yet been uncovered but for a short period this month, part of it is on public display. A smaller mosaic floor that is situated in the ancient bathhouse is visible year round.

Hisham's Palace in JerichoHisham's Palace in Jericho

Photo Courtesy -Group visit to Hisham's Palace near Jericho

Ancient Jericho is an incredible archaeological site with findings from the ancient biblical city dating back over 10,000 years. Some believe the uncovered walls correspond with the biblical story of Joshua.

Qasr El Yahud Baptismal Site, is the ancient baptismal site situated on the Jordan River and the site that many believe is the actual site where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist.

St. Georges Monastary (Greek Orthodox)  is an unusual 5th. Century monastary built by an Egyptian monk, and re-built in the 19. Century. Its name is derived from the well known Gorgias of Coziba who lived there. The Prat stream runs through the deep canyon and parts  of the ancient aqueductthat were built to bring its waters to Herod's Palace in the town of Jericho, still remain today. According to tradition, this is also where the prophet Elijah was fed by ravens. 

St. George St. George

Photo courtesy Sami Khoury, ABS Tourism

Ryan Jones writes for  , a Christian social network focused on fostering a deeper connection with faith through Holy Land tours. You can plan, learn and share your holy land experiences on Travelujah.