National Geographic : 1953 Dec
854 John Scofleld, National Geographic Staff Arab Workmen Uncover the Many-layered Walls of Bronze Age Jericho Tumbled defenses provide a tantalizing jigsaw puzzle for Jericho archeologists. These supported a wall about 2100 B. C . The standing wall of mud bricks was built two or three Rough stairs were hewn recently for workers carrying debris to the dump heap. loose boulders centuries later. springtime the land bursts into color as grain sprouts on terraces built on the hillsides, then lapses again into the blinding gray-white of dry, sun-drenched limestone. Every possible inch is cultivated, for Palestine is a hard country from which to wrest a livelihood. On the other hand, rolling grasslands spread out from 'Amman, capital of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan,* merging farther east into the hot wastes of the Syrian Desert. Be tween these twin highlands, in the great gash of the Jordan Valley, lies Jericho (map, p. 856). The elevation of Jerusalem is 2,550 feet above sea level; of 'Amman, 2,600. From either place a road descends a few miles through steeply winding valleys, then plunges downhill past signs in Arabic and English marking sea level, until it reaches Jericho, 840 feet below sea level, the lowest-lying town on the earth's surface. As the road descends, gray hills with their terraced fields and scattering of olive trees are left behind. Here are glaring slopes too water less to be cultivated, fit only for flocks of goats and sheep that subsist on vegetation which comes up after the winter rains. Suddenly there appears the flat plain of * See "Hashemite Jordan, Arab Heartland," by John Scofield, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, De cember, 1952.