The Jordan Valley
12. Jericho - (Ariha)
Byzantine Jericho is represented - like other small cities on the Madaba Map - by a wall seen from the front, with five town houses and the roofs of the town houses visible above the walls between the towers. The importance of Jericho, lays in the fact that this Biblical city is also the oldest continually inhabited oasis in the world as appears from the lengthy and comprehensive voice "Jericho" in The Anchor Bible Dictionary from which we presents the following extracts concerning the two main archaeological sites of Tell es-Sultan (Old Jericho) and Tulul Abu el-'Alayiq (Roman - Byzantine Jericho).
JERICHO: A town just NW of the Dead Sea which is best known as the site that Israel first conquered in their entrance into the land of Canaan. The Israelites encamped across the Jordan from Jericho (Num 22:1; 26:3), and from this camp, Joshua sent two spies to reconnoiter the city (Joshua 2), before undertaking a bizarre strategy of conquest (Josh 5:136:23). The city was later allotted to Benjamin (Josh 16:1, 7; 18:12, 21), but during the time of the Judges, became an outpost of Eglon of Moab ("the city of palm trees;" Judg 3:13). During the time of Elijah and Elisha, there was a school of prophets at Jericho (2 Kgs 2:45, 15). After the Babylonians had breached the wall of Jerusalem, Zedekiah attempted to escape the city under cover of darkness, but was captured near Jericho, from which he was delivered to Nebuchadnezzar, who forced him to witness the execution of his sons. Afterward Zedekiah was blinded (Jer 39:57). Most of the references to Jericho in the Apocryphal writings and the NT refer to the area of Jericho as it surrounded the Hasmonean/Herodian palace complex to the SW of the OT site (see E below).
A. Modern and Ancient Names of Jericho. The site of OT Jericho is situated on the mound of Tell es-Sultan (M.R. 192142), ca. 2 km NW of the modern oasis of Jericho known as Riha. The spring around which the ancient site grew is known as 'Ain es Sultan or Elisha's Fountain, a name applied to the spring during the Middle Ages (Garstang and Garstang 1940: 30; cf. 2 Kgs 2:1922). Occupational remains dated to the Hellenistic, Roman, and Islamic periods were found on the mounds of Tulul Abu el-'Alayiq (i.e., Roman Jericho, N.R. 191139; see E below), 2 km W of modern er-Riha (Kelso and Baramki 1955: 119; Pritchard 1958: 5658).
B. Location and Topographical Description. Jericho (Tell es-Sultan) is located in the wide plain of the Jordan valley about 16 km NW of the N shore of the Dead Sea and just to the E of the mountains of Judea. At its maximum height on the NW side, the mound rises 24 m, and its area is approximately 4 hectares. The fertile plain in which the site is situated is artificially irrigated by the spring of 'Ain es-Sultan, which is located on the E side of the ancient mound, and also by the spring of 'Ain Duq, located 3 km NW of Jericho. Since the site lies 825 ft. below sea level, the town has the distinction of being situated at the lowest spot in the world.
The topographical features which make Jericho a very fertile and ideal place for settlement have been discussed extensively by numerous authors. The first serious topographical survey was undertaken by Conder and Kitchner (SWP 3: 22229). More recent discussions appear in Kenyon (1981: 1), Bartlett (1982b: 1126), and Bienkowski (1986: 1).
C. History of Explorations and Excavations. The earliest known account of exploration pertaining to ancient Jericho dates to A.D. 333 and comes from the "pilgrim of Bordeaux" (Wilkinson, Hill, and Ryan 1988: 4). Although many other pilgrims and travelers visited the site thereafter, it was not until 1868 that the first preliminary excavation of Tell es-Sultan was undertaken by Charles Warren (Warren 1869: 1416, Bliss 1894: 17583)... The first scientific excavations (19079 and 1911) were under the direction of Ernst Sellin and Carl Watzinger (1913). They excavated at Tell es-Sultan and also at the sites of Tulul and Abu el-'Alayiq SW of Jericho.
Sellin and Watzinger excavated a considerable area of the tell. They found a large portion of the MB revetment glacis on the N, W, and E sides of the tell and also portions of the EB town walls. Their original interpretation of the revetment glacis was that it dated to the 9th century B.C. and that the EB walls belonged to the first half of the 2d millennium B.C., which appeared to confirm the biblical account of the capture of Jericho by Joshua (see below). However, Watzinger (1926: 13136) rightly revised his dating and showed that the outer revetment was destroyed ca. 1600 B.C. and that the EB walls dated in fact to the 3d millennium B.C.
Above the spring, located on the SE side of the tell, the German excavators discovered houses belonging to the Israelite settlement which were dated fairly accurately from the 11th to the early 6th centuries B.C. They concluded that the town was destroyed by the Assyrians in 721 B.C. and 701 B.C., as well as by the Babylonians in 587 B.C., with a postexilic settlement which began in 539 B.C. upon the return of the Jews from Babylon (cf. Weippert and Weippert 1976: 14547).
Since he disagreed with the results of the German excavations, John Garstang (193236) decided to undertake a new expedition to Jericho which lasted from 1930 to 1936.Garstang also excavated a number of MB and LB tombs (Garstang 1932: 18: 22, 4154; 1933: 442; and Bienkowski 1986: 32102). Owing to poor excavation techniques at the time, Garstang's stratigraphy and dating is partially unreliable, but he did break new ground in his discoveries relating to the Mesolithic and Neolithic periods at Jericho. Bienkowski (1986: 24) gives a good summary of Garstang's major finds in the publication based upon his doctoral dissertation (Holland 1988: 18990).
With the advent of the greatly improved stratigraphical digging methods developed by Sir Mortimer Wheeler and Kathleen Kenyon (Kenyon/Wheeler Method) during the late 1940s and early 1950s, Kenyon embarked upon a fresh examination of Jericho in an effort to clarify her predecessor's results on the site. The excavations were conducted from 1952 to 1958 (Kenyon 1960; 1965; and 1981; Kenyon and Holland 1982 and 1983).
As Garstang did before her, Kenyon explored around the ancient tell and excavated numerous tombs ranging in date from the EB I (Kenyon's "Proto-Urban period") to the Roman period. The material from these tombs was extensively published in the first two volumes of the final Jericho reports (Kenyon 1960 and 1965).
Bibliography: Bartlett, J. R. 1982b. Jericho. Guildford, Surrey. Bienkowski, P. 1986. Jericho in the Late Bronze Age. Warminster. Bliss, F. J. 1894. Notes on the Plain of Jericho. PEFQS, 17583. Garstang, J. 1932. Jericho: City and Necropolis. Liverpool Annals of Archaeology and Anthropology 19: 322, 3554. Garstang, J., and Garstang, J. B. E. 1940. The Story of Jericho. London. Holland, T. A. 1988. Review of P. Bienkowski, Jericho in the Late Bronze Age. JNES 47: 18990. Kelso, J. L., and Baramki, D. C. 1955. The Excavation of New Testament Jericho (Tulul Abu el-CAliyiq). Pp. 119 in Excavations at New Testament Jericho and Khirbet en-Nitla, ed. W. F. Albright, and V. Winnett. AASOR 2930. New Haven. Kenyon, K. A. 1981. Excavations at Jericho. Vol. 3, The Architecture and Stratigraphy of the Tell, ed. T. A. Holland. London. Kenyon, K. A., and Holland, T. A. 1982. Excavations at Jericho. Vol. 4, The Pottery Type Series and Other Finds. London. Kenyon, K. A., and Holland, T. A. 1983. Excavations at Jericho. Vol. 5, The Pottery Phases of the Tell and Other Finds. London. Kenyon, K. M. 1960. Excavations at Jericho. Vol. 1, The Tombs Excavated in 19524. London. Kenyon, K. M. 1965. Excavations at Jericho. Vol. 2, The Tombs Excavated in 19558. London. Pritchard, J. B. 1958. Excavations at Herodian Jericho, 1951. AASOR 3233. New Haven. Warren, C. 1869. Mounds at CAin es-Sultan PEFQS, 1416. Watzinger, C. 1926. Zur Chronologie der Schichten von Jericho. ZDMG 80: 13136. Weippert, H., and Weippert, M. 1976. Jericho in der Eisenzeit. ZDPV 92: 10548. Wilkinson, J.; Hill, J.; and Ryan, W. F. 1988. Jerusalem Pilgrims. P. 4 in Jerusalem Pilgrimage 10991185. The Hakluyt Society, Second Series, 167. London.
T. A. Holland, The Anchor Bible Dictionary, ad v. "Jericho"
Map of the Jericho region
E. Roman Jericho. Jericho of the Roman period is referred to in the Apocryphal writings and is where Bacchides is said to have built one of his fortresses (1 Macc 9:50). Later Ptolemy was made governor of the plain and the area was the scene of the massacre of Simon and his sons (1 Macc 16:1117). The roses grown in Jericho must have been proverbial, since in Sirach 24:14 they are used as a metaphor for wisdom. In the NT, the most notable references to the city are as the site of the healing of two blind men (Matt 20:2934) and as the home of Zacchaeus (Luke 19:110).
The most widespread remains from the Hasmonean and the Herodian periods were exposed in the W plain of Jericho, close to Wadi Qelt (the biblical Nahal Perat) at the site named Tulul Abu el-'Alayiq. The site, previously labeled by scholars as "Herodian" or "New Testament" Jericho (versus the older town mentioned in the OT, situated at Tell el-Sultan; see above) has proved to be a huge palace complex first built by the Hasmoneans and later rebuilt and expanded by Herod the Great. The palace was in close proximity to Jerusalem (only 20 km), and enjoyed an abundance of water, a pastoral landscape, and above all, mild winters in contrast to the cold winters of Jerusalem.
The first developments at Jericho, probably in the days of John Hyrcanus I (134104 B.C.) included the construction of: (1) a long well-built water channel to carry water from the Wadi Qelt springs to the plain; (2) a royal estate; and (3) the first phase of a winter palace.
C. Warren (1869) was the first scholar to excavate at the site. He dug sections on top of the two tells which characterize this site, one to the S and the other to the N of the wadi. E Sellin and C. Watzinger followed Warren, and did additional minor work at the site. Larger excavations were conducted in 1950 (Kelso and Baramki) and 1951 (Pritchard). The most extensive excavations of the site have been directed by E. Netzer from 1973 to 1987.
1. The Hasmonean Period. The first palace built by Hyrcanus I, N of Wadi Qelt included a two story building, about 60 _ 50 m, built on three sides of an inner courtyard. This building (only part of which has been exposed) included bath installations, a large ritual bath (miqve, two pools, one with and the other without steps), decorated rooms (with fresco and stucco), and at least one tower. This tower (13 _ 13 m) at the SW corner, was built with ashlar stones in contrast to the rest of the walls which were of mudbrick.
Two swimming pools, one beside the other, were built W of the palace (each 8 _ 9 m); perhaps they were separated to reserve one each for men and women. To the N of the palace was the large royal estate, at least 45 hectares of irrigated land, which was surrounded by a wall. Various agricultural installations (including many winepresses) were exposed close to this estate. The estate probably housed palm date trees (which were exploited mainly to produce date wine) and opobalsamum bushes (to produce perfumes and medicines). These remains accurately reflect Jericho's descriptions by Pliny, Strabo, Josephus, and others.
The first expansion of the palace was probably by Alexander Jannaeus (10376 B.C.), who built a second long range water channel to carry water from Na'aran springs to the W plain of Jericho. Simultaneously, he added to the palace (to its E) a large luxurious complex with two large adjacent swimming pools in its center (each 18 _ 13 m). The pools were surrounded by wide, paved platforms and gardens. This complex, built along one straight architectural axis also included a pavilion (21 _ 17 m, surrounded by colonnades in the Doric style) at one edge and a large garden at the other edge (ca. 60 _ 70 m, and probably also surrounded by colonnades).
The next massive addition to the palace complex was added by Jannaeus' widow, Queen Alexandra (7667 B.C.). She constructed a pair of unique villas (the "twin palaces"), built one attached to the other in a spiegel bilt plan. Each of the houses (ca. 25 _ 25 m) had a square courtyard in its center, a triclinium (open towards the courtyard through a Distilos in antis), bath installations, and various ritual baths. Each of these villas also had a neighboring garden with a small swimming pool in its center. Each of the villas and their gardens were terraced into the terrain's slope in order not to disturb the panoramic view from the above-mentioned "Doric" pavilion.
The twin palaces were probably built to house the two rival sons of the queen, of whom the oldest had served as the high priest since his father's death.
Only minor changes and additions were introduced into the palace during the 30 years between Alexandra and Herod the Great. They mainly included the introduction of more bath installations (both secular and ritual) and a large swimming pool (ca. 20 _ 12.5 m).
2. The Herodian Period. During Herod's long reign (374 B.C.), he managed to build three independent palaces at the same site, which ultimately functioned as one. It seems that in Herod's early years (3731 B.C.), the Hasmonean family continued to use its palace in Jericho. The dramatic murder of Aristobulus III in a swimming pool at Jericho, as told by Josephus, took place during a banquet organized by Herod's Hasmonean mother-in-law.
Herod built his first independent palace at Jericho (probably around 35 B.C.) not far from the Hasmonean one, S of Wadi Qelt. It was a large rectangular building (84 _ 45 m), built on three sides of a peristyled courtyard. It included a large triclinium, various palatial and service rooms, a bathhouse in the Roman style, and a ritual bath. Although free-standing, it resembles an introverted city house similar to those at Pompeii. This design may reflect Herod's political insecurities (ca. 3530 B.C.), when Jericho was officially taken from him and given to Egypt's queen, Cleopatra.
Herod's second palace at the site (built around 25 B.C.), was built as an open complex, exposed to the landscape around. It was built on top of the ruined Hasmonean complex, following the latter's destruction by the earthquake of 31 B.C. This palace's major wing (the E wing) was built NE of the ruined twin palaces. It comprised two levels: the upper one with various palatial and service rooms was built around a large peristyled courtyard; the lower one included the Hasmonean (20 _ 12.5 m) swimming pool, a bathhouse in the Roman style, and various service rooms.
To the W, the two large Hasmonean swimming pools were combined into one large pool (32 _ 18 m), surrounded by newly planted gardens. Perhaps another wing (perhaps a villa) was built on top of the Hasmonean artificial mound, but no evidence of this has been found.
The largest and most sophisticated palace built by Herod in Jericho, the Third Palace, was built around 15 B.C. on both sides of Wadi Qelt, N of the first palace and SE of the second one. Covering about 3 hectares, it was built following a grid system parallel to the wadi. Roman builders and artisans cooperated with the local artisans to use Roman concrete work, which was covered by small stones in the opus reticulatum and opus quadratum styles, side by side with the local mudbrick work.
The main wing of the palace was the N one. It included various palatial rooms, two small gardened peristyled courtyards, a relatively large bathhouse in the Roman style, and a huge triclinium. This outstanding triclinium (29 _ 19 m) had rows of columns on three of its sides, similar in plan to the one in the first palace. Most of its floor was covered by an elaborate opus sectile floor (its tiles were looted in antiquity). The walls, like practically all the other walls in this wing, were covered with frescoes. The wing also included two long colonnades, built along the wadi, opposite the sunken garden. The ceilings of these colonnades, as well as those in other rooms, were decorated with elaborate stucco work.
The other three large wings of the third palace were built S of Wadi Qelt: the sunken garden, a huge pool, and an elaborate building.
The sunken garden, an elaborate formal garden (140 _ 40 m), was flanked by two elevated colonnades on its short ends. The long S facade (Kelso and Baramki's "Grand Facade") was decorated with 48 niches, having a reflection water channel in front of them. The center of this facade was designed with a small semicircular garden, in the shape of a theater. The huge pool (90 _ 42 m), probably served for swimming, boating, and water games.
Only foundations, a circle bounded by a square, have survived from the building which once stood on top of the artificial mound. There are good reasons to infer that above these foundations stood a round reception hall, 16 m in diameter, with four semicircular niches around it (a similar hall, 8 m in diameter, was integrated into the Roman-style bathhouse of the N wing). Following this reconstruction, this hall was similar in shape to the contemporanous Tempio di Merkuri in Baia. This elevated hall was reached by a stair-bridge constructed upon a series of arches. A second bridge, of which we have no evidence, was probably built across Wadi Qelt, connecting the two parts of the palace.
The winter palace complex included also a series of structures built E of the Hasmonean palace. These structures (only partially excavated), were built along the fringe of the royal estate, perhaps to house the administrative staff. At their E edge, a small "industrial area" was exposed, probably to process some of the royal estate products (perhaps the opobalsamum).
Another important building project of Herod was revealed and excavated by Netzer (197576) at Tell el Samarat, S of Tell el-Sultan. This consists of the remains of a complex unique in the whole Greco-Roman world, which integrated a horse- and chariot-racing course, a theater's cavea 70 m wide, and an elaborate building (70 _ 70 m) elevated on top of an artificial mound. Little more than the foundations have survived of this latter elevated building, which may have served as a reception area or a gymnasium.
This combined building project (which accommodated horse races, athletics, boxing, theater, and musical shows like the ones performed in the quinquennial games in honor of Augustus, which Herod established and maintained in Jerusalem and Caesarea) probably is that to which Josephus referred when he mentioned at Jericho a hippodrome, a theater, and an amphitheater.
Very few other Hasmonean or Herodian ruins are known in Jericho; however, there are a few independent dwellings. It can be assumed that Second Temple Jericho was spread over the plain's irrigated areas, probably in the character of a garden city, side by side with the royal estates.
Jericho as a whole functioned not only as an agricultural center and as a crossroad, but as a winter resort for Jerusalem's aristocracy. Indirect evidence of the extensive Jewish population in this period was found in the survey and excavations (Hachlili 197677) of a huge contemporary cemetery W of the plain and near the bottom of the mountains' slopes.
Bibliography: Hachlili, R. 1979. The Goliath Family in Jericho: Funerary Inscriptions from a First Century A.D. Jewish Monumental Tomb. BASOR 235: 3165. Netzer, E. 1977. The Winter Palaces of the Judean Kings at Jericho at the End of the Second Temple Period. BASOR 228: 113. Netzer, E. 1982. Recent Discoveries in the Winter Palace of Second Temple Times at Jericho. Qad 15/1: 2229 (in Hebrew).
Ehud Netzer, The Anchor Bible Dictionary, ad v. "Jericho"
José M. Blázquez ("The Presence of Nature in the Madaba Mosaic Map", in The Madaba Map Centenary, Jerusalem 1999, 250)
The palm tree does not appear very often in mosaics. Several medallions, each with two horses, face a palm tree that separates them in the mosaic of the House of Sorothus in Hadrumetum. The mosaicist placed a palm tree in the mosaic of Dominus Iulius in Tabarka, and in Carthage, Bordj-Djedid from the end of the fifth century or the beginning of the sixth century, and in the Villa Pompeianus in Oued Athmenia. Three date palms can be seen on a pavement with scenes of daily life in Deir el-Adas in Syria dated to 621. A mosaic in the Church of Saint George at Khirbet el-Mukhayyat, the town of Nebo, shows two deer facing a palm tree. Finally, a palm tree placed in a large cylindrical vase between two peacocks appears in the Byzantine church of the palm tree at Umm al-Rasas. Piccirillo mentions palm trees in mosaics in the Church of the Lady of Madaba, from the end of the sixth century or the beginning of the seventh; in the Church of Khadir, from the second half of the sixth century, and in the Church of Saint George in Khirbet el-Mukhayyat. Palm trees were placed as well next to the villae rusticae in a Hispanic pavement of the fourth century, with the Muses, found in Arróniz (Navarra), with a clear African influence in the depicted flora and fauna. (See also the complete article)
Bellarmino Bagatti (Ancient Christian Villages of Samaria, Jerusalem - in the press)
Jesus passed through Jericho where he cured two blind men and converted Zacchaeus the tax collector. Of the latter, the pseudo-Clementine Recognitiones and the Constitutiones Apostorum say that he was ordained bishop of Caesarea by St. Peter (Bibl. Sanct. XII, 1456-1457); on the other hand, the two blind men supposedly remained in Jericho. One was recognized by the Palestinian Christians, since the early church knows him as Bartimeus, 'the son of Timeus.' Like others who had been healed by Jesus, Bartimeus must have recounted his encounter with the Lord many times, perhaps recalling the place of his miraculous cure.
The same pseudo-Clementine Recognitiones tell us how St. James, brother of the Lord, repaired to Jericho to escape the persecution of Saul-later St. Paul. At that time there was in Jericho a tomb belonging to two of the faithful which twice a year renewed its whitewashing on its own (Recognitiones I, 71-72, PG I, 1246).
Apart from these items of doubtful historical value, the fact remains that in the fourth century the local church was led by a bishop. He had a Gentile name, Januarius; and took part in the Council of Nicaea in 325. Hence it can be concluded that the community at that time was made up mostly of Christians of Gentile stock.
Other bishops in union with the Jerusalem church succeeded Januarius; and took part in various councils: Macer was at Constantinople in 381; Eleutherius went to Lydda in 415, and John and Gregory were present at the councils held in Jerusalem , respectively in 518 and 536 (Fedalto, 'Liste vescovili,' 35).
Jericho in the Byzantine Period. The Madaba mosaic map shows us Jericho in the sixth century (Fig. 26). To the left is the inscription 'Of St. Eliseus,' marking a domed church flanked by two towers. Such a church represents ancient Jericho. Then, after an empty space, comes the caption 'Jericho', marking the Byzantine city enclosed by a wall and surrounded by palms. This dicotomy is attested also by contemporary pilgrims. For example, in 333 the anonymous pilgrim of Bordeaux visited the place coming from Jerusalem and wrote: 'Coming down the mountain to the right, behind a tomb, is the sycamore tree which Zacchaeus climbed in order to see Christ. One thousand five hundred paces from the city is the spring of the prophet. Elisha... That was the site of the city of Jericho around whose walls the children of Israel marched with the Ark of the Covenant, and the walls fell down' (Itin. Burdigalense 596-597, CCSL 175, 18-19. According to this anonymous writer, the distance between the two sites was fifteen hundred paces(i.e. one and a half Roman miles), and according to Theodosius, a sixth-century pilgrim, it was two miles (De situ Terrae Sanctae, ch..19, CCSL 175, 121; cfr. Ench., nos.546, 548)).
In the second half of the sixth century, when the mosaicists of Madaba were making the mosaic map, an anonymous pilgrim from Piacenza passed through Jericho and was charmed by its tropical vegetation. He noted that here was made tha 'potiston' wine given as a cure for fever, here grew pound-size dates, some specimens of which he brought back to Italy, 40-pound citrons, beans with pods 2 feet long and 3 digits wide, besides early grapes which were already being sold in Jerusalem for the feast of the Ascension, and which produced new wine by the feast of Pentecost (Itinerarium, chs. 13-15, CCSL 175, 136-137).
The religious buildings mentioned by the travellers are: the church near the spring of Elisha that appears in the Madaba map; a chapel dedicated to St. Mary with a xenodochium , i.e. a hospice for pilgrims, over the house of Rahab in old Jericho, and outside Byzantine Jericho, on the Jerusalem road, an oratory which enclosed the tree climbed by Zacchaeus.
Monastic soures record a xenodochium, founded by St. Sabas, another belonging to the monastery of St. Euthymius, a hospital built by St. Theodosius, and various monasteries. Father Augustinovic enumerates them with meticulous care in his Gerico e dintorni (Jerusalem, 1951).
The Excavations. Since the nineteenth century, scholars have shown interest in this history of Jericho, and both regular excavations and chance discoveries have revealed archeological remains whcih throw light on the city in the Byzantine period. However, the walls marked on the mosaic map of Madaba have not been found, and their very existence is therefore called in question
We note some findings of a Christian character, also providing the reader with a sketchy map (Fig. 27). At Tell Hassan a three-nave church was discovered (Fig. 28); it was destroyed in antiquity and its place taken by an Arab building. The church is 37.3 m long, 18 wide. It was excavated by D.C. Baramski on behalf of the Department of Antiquities during the English mandate (QDAP 5 , 82-89). The mosaic pavement has geometric designs which recall motifs found in the Constantinian Basilica of Bethlehem. The coins recovered in the dig go from the fourth to the seventh century, giving a clear idea of the period in which the church was in use.
Moving a little further south, we find the Coptic church dedicated to St. Anthony the Abbot, built between 1922 and 1924. I was told by a Christian who lives nearby that ancient stones were found in the course of the work, and some of them were reused in the construction of both the church and the pilgrims' hospice. Various remains can in fact be seen near the church. I noticed a capital with a dado 59cm wide and a shaft 50cm wide. A curious feature of this piece is that the shaft is divided into eight sections by little columns. Within each section is a circle with incised or sculptured designs, among them an eight-pointed star and a rosette. Other column shafts have a diameter of 57 or 40cm, with a base dado of 55cm. I saw also a Doric capital 58cm wide with crosses in both volutes, a small base, 15 cm wide, which served for a pillar of altar, and another fluted column, 22cm in diameter, j jutting out from a stone.
Within the church, a fragment of marble chancel decorated with acanthus leaves is set in a wall, as well as a fragment of inscription, 17 cm wide, containing the beginning of two lines of script, 3 cm high. In the first line the part of the name Cassianus can be read, while the rest is too ruined to be made out.
Further south, on the east side of the great square, is the oratory dedicated to St George which contained the tomb of 'blessed George, priest and hegumen of the pious oratory' who died in 566, as we are informed by the mosaic inscription which still exists. The ruin is enclosed within buildings belonging to the Russians (Fig. 27,4).
Two other ecclesistic remains of the Byzantine period are found on the outskirts of the town to the west. The first (Fig. 27,5), called Church of Abuna Philip, belongs to the Coptic Orthodox cleric who also excavated it, and is located on the north side of Wadi Kelt. Father Augustinovic and myself were the first who could take pictures and publish the antiquities (Augustinovic, Gerico, 77-83). The geometric mosaic pavement bears two inscriptions: one (Fig. 29) says that the soldier Magnianos, giving thanks to St. Andrew, built the church and laid the mosaic through the zeal of the priest Heraclius, the deacon Constantine and Polychronius. Thus the inscription gives us the name of the titular of the church and its benefactors. The other inscription (Fig. 30) is the epitaph of blessed Tryphon, servant of Christ, who died, according to Father Augustinovic's reading, on February 20 of the fifth indiction of the year 10. If this datum refers to the regnal year of an emperor, the date is best reckoned as February 575, in the 10th year of Justin II's reign. If, on the other hand, it refers to a creation year, the date would be 587, in the reign of Tiberius II. The era of creation was already in use in sixth century monastic literature (e.g. by Cyril of Scythopolis). On the other hand, O. Meinardus (Bulletin de la Societé d'archéologie copte 18 [1965-66], 191) interpreted the date as February 20, the fifth day (of the week) of the 10th Indiction. The two conditions - that February 20 was a 'fifth day', i.e. a Thursday in Palestinian parlance, and that it fell in a 10th indiction - are realized only three times in the relevant period: in 592, 637 and 682. Since the two later dates fell after the Persian invasion and the destruction of the churches in Wadi Kelt, according to Meinardus the date of the epitaph would be 592. The date is clearly a matter of discussion but the time gap between the different solutions is not long.
The other ecclesistical installation in this area, called Church of Abuna Anthimos and belonging to the Greek Orthodox, lies toward ancient Jericho to the south of the main road which joins the two centres (Fig. 27:2). This too was presented to the public for the first time by Father Augustonovic. The excavation was not completed; and so it was not possible to draw the ground plan of the building in full, as was also the case of the church described above. Nowadays the ruins are in even worse condition. The mosaic floor featured various birds, a jackal eating grapes, some fish, a palmette (Pl. 25,1-2), and an inscription which reads: '+Tomb of the deacons Daniel, Macarius, and John+.' Liturgical objects were also found on the site (Fig. 25, 3-4). On the whole, it is likely that the church was in use in the fifth and sixth centuries.
The Early Arab Period. After the passing of the Persian army in 614 and the arrival of the Arabs in 638, Jericho fell into decline, so that in 670 the French pilgrim Arcuphus saw nothing but ruins there (De locis sanctis II, 13-14, CCSL 175, 212-213; Ench., no. 550) Despite the great fertility of the region, the city was almost abandoned because of its insecurity. .
The Crusader Period. When the Crusaders occupied Palestine in 1099, Jericho was nothing more than a 'Saracen Village,' as the pilgrim Daniel put it. Again, many years later, in 1172, the pilgrim Theoderic described it as a 'small village.' However, the land was exploited by the Crusaders who made it a fief of the Sisters of Bethany, and grew cane for the sugar industry (Ench., nos.552, 554).
The Modern Period. When the Crusaders left, Jericho once again became insecure because of the dangers of the road leading down from Jerusalem to the Jordan river. Thus, in 1283 the Dominican Burchard found no more than eight houses there. In 1347 Niccolò da Poggibonsi stopped there on his way back from the Jordan, and left this description: 'One finds a lodging house but such a one as has neither bed nor board: within is an open space and there people rest.' And he wrote this about the city: It is completely ruined and there is but one mansion with a bit of a tower, and low houses around it" (Libro d'Oltramare, 86-87).
The tower was seen and remarked upon until modern times. In 1669 Father Morone (Terra Santa I, 318) said that Jericho is 'now reduced to a miserable hamlet, nor does one see any building worth of note, except the house of Zacchaeus. . . which has a large tower." The tower is located in the Russian property near the main square (Fig. 27,4).
In this century the area became inhabited again because many people have bought lands, put them under cultivation, and have begun to come and spend the winter here. Christians have come down from Jerusalem, from Palestinian villages, and even from Transjordan, especially from es-Salt. New churches have thus been built: in 1922-24 by the Copts, with icons in Coptic style; in 1924 by the Latins, whose church has served as parish church since 1950. It is dedicated to the Good Shepherd and has a Latin-cross ground plan and stained glass windows (Pl. 27,1). The Greeks, whose compound is in front of the Latins', rebuilt their church in 1973, embellishing it with Byzantine-style icons brought from Athens. All these churches have pictures showing Zacchaeus perched on the tree.
Two flourishing schools deserve mention: The Terra Santa Boys' School near the church of the Good Shepherd; and the Girls' School nearby, kept by the Franciscan Sisters. Both instruct Christians and also many Moslems. For some time now a small Abyssinian community has existed in Jericho as has a house of the Congregation founded by Don Dossetti.
Finds. With the extension of cultivation, ruins, cisterns of the Byzantine period, and even some sacred objects came to light. The Flagellation Museum has long possessed a thurible with crosses on the chains, some ceramic jars of elongated shape belonging to the Byzantine period, and a broken marble reliquary. In its present, broken state it is 15 cm long and has only two recesses left for the relics (6.5x6.5 cm and 3x3 cm) instead of the original three. On the upper part is a hole for fixing the lid. The sides are smooth but they show marks of fire.
Typical 'pilgrims" flasks' with a round body coming from Jericho were published by Father Saller as examples of Roman ceramics (Bethany, 222, Fig. 44).
Thurible with crosses on the chains
from Byzantine Jericho
(Studium Bublicum Franciscanum - Museum)
For more sources and bibliography see:
Tabula Imperii Romani. Iudaea - Palaestina (Jerusalem 1994) s.v. "Hiericho", 143-144.
Map Section 2 Place Sources