Situated beside a perennial spring, the ancient site of Jericho, marked by a tell or settlement mound, began as a Natufian shrine c9000BC. Muddy land, watered by the spring, provided excellent conditions for cereal farming in an otherwise arid environment, and by 8000BC the Jericho settlement had growth to a size of 1.6 hectares. For greater security, the prosperous farming community built a stone perimeter wall 3 metres thick, strengthened at one point by a circular stone tower over 9 metres high, with an internal stairway (below).

By 7000BC new developments in religion are evident, and plastered skulls, the faces perhaps modelled in the likeness of venerated ancestors, are found at the site. This economy was based on cultivated wheat and barley, with domestic sheep and goat finally replacing gazelle as the dominant meat source in around 7000BC (below far right). The development of Jericho, adjacent to excellent arable land, may be contrasted with that of nearby Nahal Oren (far right). There was very little land suitable for cereal growing around the latter site, and though it had long been used by hunters and gatherers it never grew beyond a small group of huts and in the 7th Millennium BC was finally abandoned.

Agriculture - Main Index

Origins and Spread of Agriculture and Pastoralism in Eurasia