National Geographic : 1953 Dec
855 John Scofield, National Geographic Staff Refugee Women Use Elisha's Fountain as Laundry and Social Club Ankle-deep in swift water, Arab housewives exchange gossip as they fill graceful pottery jars and an ugly but utilitarian jerrican (pages 862, 863). One (right) uses teeth to hold her skirt out of the stream. Their village lies a few hundred feet away in the shadow of Jericho's hoary mound. Jericho, the bottom of a great rift through which the River Jordan coils to lose itself in the Dead Sea. The center of the plain is a fantastic badlands where the river has twisted its channel between slimy white mounds. The landscape is glaring white in the sunshine and inexpressibly barren. In the midst of this bleak plain Jericho stands out in startling fertility. Deep-green fields of grain surround gardens, palm trees, and banana groves. This lush oasis fans out from an oval, mud-colored hill a mile north west of the modern town (page 860). Arche ologists years ago discovered that the hill is actually a mound composed of layer upon layer of ruins deposited as successive towns rose, prospered, and fell beside the pleasant waters of Elisha's Fountain. These waters, carefully diverted to rich gardens, nurture modern Jericho exactly as they did the ancient Jerichos. West of present-day Jericho, near a stream, archeologists have uncovered some of New Testament Jericho, where Herod had his winter palace.* Ours was not the first expedition to attack Old Testament Jericho's long-buried secrets. German archeologists were there before World * See "The Ghosts of Jericho," by James L. Kelso, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, December, 1951.