By Jo Pugh • 17 September 2023 • 11:19
Monastery of the Temptation, Jericho. Credit: Dmitrij Rodionov, DR, CC BY-SA 3.0/Wikimedia
During its 45th annual convention held in Riyadh, the UNESCO committee officially designated Ancient Jericho, located in Palestine and renowned as the world’s oldest city, as a World Heritage Site on Saturday, September 16.
The 21-member committee swiftly and unanimously approved the inclusion of this site, adding it to the three existing UNESCO-designated places in Palestine.
Following the approval, the Palestinian delegation expressed gratitude, noting that this is the first time a candidacy was presented entirely by local personnel. They thanked UNESCO for the immediate recognition, underlining the city’s uniqueness, among other elements, reported EFE.
Ancient Jericho, also known as Tel es Sultan, holds the distinction of being the world’s oldest city and the one situated at the lowest elevation below sea level. It is nestled in the Jordan Valley, in close proximity to the Jordan River, the Dead Sea, and Jerusalem.
The site encapsulates 10,000 years of human development, characterised by approximately 23 archaeological layers.
They contain fortification systems, residential structures, impressive public architecture, and evidence of an extinct Neolithic ancestor cult.
As the oldest continuously inhabited fortified city globally, Ancient Jericho occupies a pivotal place in human history. It signifies the emergence of one of the primary centres of the Neolithic revolution, representing the first settled society based on the domestication of plants and animals, as explained by UNESCO.
Jericho has long captivated the attention of archaeologists and historians, with excavations dating back to the 19th century. Notably, Charles Warren’s work at Tell es-Sultan, situated a short distance north of Jericho’s centre, played a significant role in identifying the ancient city.
This work centred around Elisha’s Spring, a renowned location in the Bible, believed to be the site where Elisha was healed.
The excavations have uncovered walls that have sparked extensive research and discussion regarding their significance in relation to the history of the bible, recounting the Israelite invasion of Canaan.
The UNESCO committee is currently reviewing fifty sites for potential inclusion as world heritage sites this year.
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Jo Pugh is a journalist based in the Costa Blanca North. Originally from London, she has been involved in journalism and photography for 20 years. She has lived in Spain for 12 years, and is a dedicated and passionate writer.
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