Sunday, October 10, 2010

Jericho Celebrates 10,000 Years on 10-10-10

Jericho is attempting to capitalize on today’s unique date in connection with its claim to be a 10,000-year-old city.  From the AP:

Visitors to ancient Jericho Sunday got a rare glimpse at what archaeologists here say is the largest carpet mosaic in the Middle East, measuring nearly 900 square meters (9,700 square feet).

The small red, blue and ochre square stones laid out in complex geometric and floral patterns cover the floor of the main bath house of an Islamic palace that was destroyed by an earthquake in the eighth century. Since being excavated in the 1930s and 1940s, the mosaic has largely remained hidden under layers of canvas and soil to protect it against sun and rain.

Starting Sunday, a small section will be laid bare for a week, as part of Jericho's 10,000th birthday celebrations. The mosaic then will be covered up again until the money is found to build a roof that would serve as a permanent weather shield, said Palestinian archaeologist Hamdan Taha.

Biblical Jericho attracts a steady flow of pilgrims, but the small Jordan Valley oasis is making a major push these days to become a magnet for tourists, presenting itself as the oldest city on earth. Marking the 10,000th birthday Sunday is entirely random, though, with archaeologists saying they could be off by hundreds of years in dating the first human settlement in the area.

Where does the 10,000-year-old claim come from?  First, the issue is not settlement, as remains of earlier sites have been found around the world.  Jericho claims to be unique because of its early fortifications.  Second, Kenyon identified remains of a city (with a wall and tower) from the earliest part of the Neolithic period.  Some archaeologists date the beginning of the Neolithic period to 8000 BC, or 10,000 years before present. 

Jericho Neolithic tower from east, tb091504848

Massive stone tower at Jericho from the Neolithic period

Over the years, various signs have welcomed visitors to the “oldest city in the world.” 

Jericho oldest city in world sign, tb091504778

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