Jericho: the world’s largest city in 7000 BC
Episode #1 of the course “Greatest Cities Throughout History”
Jericho has existed for over 10,000 years, earning the title of being the oldest city in the world. While 2,000 people may not seem like many now, that was the population in Jericho in 7000 B.C., when Jericho was the largest city in existence. Having that many people in one location was a feat because, at that time, having too many people in one place often meant running out of vital resources like food and water.
However, Jericho’s location between the Dead Sea and Mount Nebo created a natural irrigation system from the Jordan River. This system allowed the citizens to grow the crops needed to sustain Jericho’s people without worrying about overpopulation. In fact, the agricultural surplus allowed others to move from the fields and specialize in other areas, such as politics and religion. Merchants and artisans likely also developed in Jericho.
Although the city did not have it when it was first established, Jericho was well-known for its surrounding wall. The wall reached about 15 feet wide and over 10 feet high, and it had stone towers that were about 25 feet high. The wall was built for protection against enemies and, presumably, to help prevent flooding. It was sloped as well, which made scaling it very difficult.
This wall was also the feature of a well-known biblical story in the book of Joshua. The story goes that the Israelite people had just crossed the Jordan River and entered the land of Canaan. They believed that this land was promised to them by God, but the city of Jericho prevented them from taking it. In the story, the Israelites simply had to walk around the wall chanting and blowing trumpets for several days and the wall would fall. They did this, and the wall fell, and they took the city, burning it and its inhabitants to the ground. The story also states that Joshua “cursed” anyone who would try to rebuild the city. Nonetheless, the population of Jericho is about 19,000 as of the early 2000s.
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