In the 1950s, Kathleen Kenyon extensively excavated Tell es-Sultan, a location known in the Bible as Jericho. She discovered something there that had been overlooked and ignored by three previous excavations that changed history forever. It is still overlooked by most people today, but to me it is most important for a correct cultural and historical perspective of the times. Click below to read more:
Ernest Sellin and Carl Watzinger excavated Jericho between 1907 and 1909 finding only two Middle Bronze Age (1950-1550 BCE) walls - too early for Joshua. Joshua's Biblical wall should have been destroyed by Yahweh and trumpets around 1300 to 1400 BCE, but nothing had been found at this date by Sellin and Watzinger or in previous excavations by Sir Charles Warren in the 1860s. Excavations by John Garstang in the 1930s had proved inconclusive regarding the chronological evidence of the famous wall, however he did again raise the erroneous suggestion that one of the walls may have been Biblical.
This suggestion was finally dismissed by Kenyon, excavating between 1952 and 1958 and finding no less than 17 Bronze Age walls, many destroyed by earthquakes but nothing dating to the suggested "conquest period" of the Bible, when the land stood minimally inhabited.
Now this is all great for skeptical dismissal of the Jericho fable in the Bible and many people think the story stops there. They don't think any further or feel any reason to consider extending their knowledge of this subject and the full details of what was found. Big mistake.
Kenyon also discovered something much older at Jericho that I feel is far more important than these Bronze Age walls...
The Sultanian culture.
The Sultanian culture re-wrote history and forever changed our chronology of the Stone Age. Sultanians apparently thrived in the Jordan valley between 9000 and 8000 BCE. This is a lot older than the Bronze Age and a lot older than the Neolithic age was thought to date. Kenyon had to develop new terminology "Pre-Pottery Neolithic" A and B periods to accommodate the extension of the Neolithic in the Near East back thousands of years. The Sultanian culture existed at Jericho at the horizon of the New Stone Age (Neolithic) on the transition from the Old Stone Age (Paleolithic). This transition marked the emergence of agriculture (the Neolithic Revolution), religion and commerce and Kenyon, using methodical, scientific archaeological techniques picked up the culture that caused it.
Excavations uncovered not only a substantial mud-brick wall surrounding the town at around 8000 BCE, but also the "Tower of Jericho", standing at 8.5 metres and recorded as the world's tallest known structure for over 5000 years until completion of the Pyramid of Djoser, Kenyon remarked that "the tower would not disgrace one of the more grandiose medieval castles".
Israeli archaeologists have recently concluded that the tower was aligned to the Summer Solstice for ceremonial purposes.
More importantly in my opinion was the discovery of a 9m x 3m x 600m trench dug through solid limestone bedrock around the proto-city around 8000 BCE. To me, this gives evidence of possible early irrigation purposes long before many archaeologists are willing to admit irrigation could have even been invented!
Domesticated Emmer wheat was also found at Jericho and the earliest dates we have for this today are confirmed at 8800 BCE at Tell Aswad, just north of the Jordan. Wheat is the essential crop needed for sedentary culture. Other counterpart cultures studied seperately have been called the Tahunian (Israel), Aswadian (Tell Aswad, Homs Basin), Qaraoun culture (Lebanon) and Mureybetian (Tell Mureybit, North Syria) "Pre-Pottery Neolithic A". After visiting the headwaters of the Jordan in 2009 and seeing the ruins in the landscape, I suggest these cultures would have centered in the Anti-Lebanon, where archaeologist Jacques Cauvin suggested the wheat at Aswad may have been domesticated and the Neolithic Revolution started.
More relevantly to the purpose of this blog, the Sultanian/Aswadian/Mureybetian/Tahunian/Qaraoun culture built all this four or five thousand years before the suggested literal creation date of the 6000 year old Earth by God, that is still being taught in some Texas public schools today. It still seems an outrage that any teacher should be teaching this instead of the practical archaeology of the Near East, whether in Texas, or a Christadelphian sunday school.
Also: See the short film "Tower of Jericho" on our main front page below this article.