When the trumpets sounded, the people shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the people gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so every man charged straight in, and they took the city. Joshua 6:20
The site believed to be the ruins of the City of Jericho described in the Bible has been excavated several times:
- 1868 - Charles Warren
- 1907 - Austro-German expedition under L. Sellinger and T. Watzinger
- 1930–36 - Professor John Garstang
- 1952–58 – Kathleen Kenyon
- 1997 - Lorenzo Nigro and Nicolo Marchetti
The Sellinger and Watzinger and Kenyon excavations concluded that the city was unoccupied during the time that Joshua was believed to have led the Israeli armies. Garstang concluded that it was occupied at the time. As Garstang grew older, he asked Kathleen Kenyon to continue his work at Jericho. Kenyon worked in a much smaller area of Jericho City IV, the layer of the city usually associated with Joshua's destruction, than did Garstang, and she concluded that this city was destroyed in about 1580 to 1550 BC, contrasted to Garstang's date of about 1410 BC. Garstang never accepted Kenyon's conclusion as to the date, but Kenyon's date became the most commonly accepted.
Bryant Wood reviewed Kenyon's findings and concluded that Jericho was occupied at the time of its attack as the Bible states. At the moment there is no consensus in the archaeological community on when or how Jericho was destroyed.
However, the different conclusions are not over whether evidence was found that matched the biblical description, but over the timing. For a discussion of the timing issue, see the Jericho chronology dispute article.
Findings matching the biblical description include:
- The city was overcome by a catastrophe in which a new culture replaced the previous culture at a number of locations in the area, with the incoming people not being adept at building. (The Israelites had been living in tents for forty years.)
- It was well-stocked with food, so the conquering of it was not by starving out the inhabitants.
- Conquest was at harvest time, because grain jars were full (see Joshua 3:15).
- The siege could not have been long, because the food supplies were intact or almost intact. In contrast, some years earlier the Egyptians besieged Sharuhen in the Gaza area, another well-fortified city, for three years before it was conquered.
- The city remained largely uninhabited for hundreds of years afterwards.
- The city was burnt.
- According to archaeologists Kenyon and Wood the burning of the city was preceded by an earthquake that collapsed the city's buildings.
- Anon., Jericho (Minnesota State University)
- Down, David, The story of Jericho, Journal of Creation 20(1):86–92, April 2006. HTML PDF.
- Wood, Bryant and Byer, Gary, Is the Bible accurate concerning the destruction of the walls of Jericho? 2002 (Christian Answers Network).
- Wood, Bryant G., Has the biblical city and story of Jericho been verified? 2001 (Christian Answers Network).
- http://scriptures.lds.org/en/biblephotos/15 Photographs of Scriptural Sites: Jericho, scriptures.lds.org
- Some sources give slightly different dates to these. The first four dates are from Anon. (Minnesota State University)
- Wood and Byer, 2002
- Wood, 2001
- Anon., Minnesota State University
- Down, 2006
- "The destruction was complete. Walls and floors were blackened or reddened by fire, and every room was filled with fallen bricks, timbers, and household utensils; in most rooms the fallen debris was heavily burnt, but the collapse of the walls of the eastern rooms seems to have taken place before they were affected by the fire." Kathleen Kenyon, Excavations at Jericho, Vol. 3: The Architecture and Stratigraphy of the Tell, ed. Thomas A. Holland (London: British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem, 1981)
- Did the Israelites Conquer Jericho? A New Look at the Archaeological Evidence.