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Jericho’s Walls: Discovery and Significance (Biblical Archaeology)

Jericho’s Walls: Discovery and Significance (Biblical Archaeology)

The story of Jericho, as described in the Book of Joshua, is one of the most dramatic accounts in the Bible, telling of the Israelite conquest of the city and the miraculous collapse of its walls. This ancient city, located in the modern-day West Bank, has been a subject of intense archaeological study, with many researchers aiming to uncover evidence that could shed light on the biblical narrative. This article explores the archaeological evidence unearthed in Jericho, discussing how these findings may support the biblical account of the city’s fall.

Jericho: A City of Ancient Mysteries

Jericho is one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities, with a history stretching back more than 10,000 years. Its strategic location in the Jordan Valley made it a key site in ancient times. The biblical account in Joshua 6 describes how the walls of Jericho fell after the Israelites marched around the city for seven days, blowing trumpets. This story has captivated scholars and believers alike, leading to numerous excavations aimed at understanding Jericho’s past.

Archaeological Discoveries at Jericho

The most significant archaeological excavations at Jericho, known as Tell es-Sultan, were conducted by Ernst Sellin and Carl Watzinger, John Garstang, and Kathleen Kenyon. These explorations have revealed a series of fortifications, including walls and towers, dating back to different periods in Jericho’s long history.

John Garstang’s excavation in the 1930s initially claimed to find evidence supporting the biblical narrative. He discovered a collapsed wall which he dated to around 1400 BCE, around the time the Israelite conquest is traditionally dated. Garstang’s findings suggested that an earthquake could have caused the walls to fall, aligning with the biblical description of the event.

Kathleen Kenyon’s later work in the 1950s refined the chronology of Jericho’s archaeological layers. Although her findings suggested that the city’s major destruction layers were older than the period ascribed to Joshua’s conquest, some scholars argue that her dating methods may not have accounted for certain chronological complexities of the ancient Near East.

Reconciling Archaeological Evidence with the Biblical Account

The debate over the archaeological evidence from Jericho centers on the interpretation and dating of the findings. Proponents of the biblical narrative argue that the evidence of collapsed walls and a significant destruction layer could indeed correlate with the story of Joshua. They contend that discrepancies in dating could be attributed to the challenges of precisely dating ancient ruins.

Furthermore, the discovery of storage jars full of grain in the ruins by both Garstang and Kenyon supports the biblical account that the siege was short since a long siege would have depleted such resources. This detail adds to the argument that the archaeological findings at Jericho are consistent with the biblical narrative.

The Walls of Jericho: Symbolic and Historical Interpretations

For many, the walls of Jericho are more than just an archaeological curiosity; they are a symbol of faith and a testimony to the historical accuracy of the Bible. The story of Jericho is seen as a powerful example of divine intervention in human history, and archaeological findings that align with this narrative strengthen this belief.

At the same time, it’s important to acknowledge that archaeological interpretations can vary, and the evidence from Jericho is subject to different readings. While some scholars see a clear link between the ruins and the biblical story, others suggest that the archaeological record is more complex and not as directly supportive of the biblical timeline.


The archaeological exploration of Jericho has provided valuable insights into the city’s ancient history and the potential historical basis of the biblical account. While there is still debate among scholars regarding the interpretation of the evidence, many argue that the findings at Jericho offer support for the biblical narrative of the walls’ collapse. As one of the most intriguing archaeological sites in the Near East, Jericho continues to be a key focus for understanding the interplay between the Bible and the historical record. Whether viewed through the lens of faith, history, or science, the walls of Jericho remain a profound testament to the rich tapestry of human civilization and its enduring mysteries.


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