World’s first skyscraper ‘Jericho tower’ built to intimidate masses

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

ISRAEL - Israeli archaeologists have said that the Jericho tower, which was constructed 11,000-years-ago, was built to promote farming and to entice people to abandon their nomadic ways and to settle down.

Long before its Biblical walls came tumbling down, Jericho’s residents were being enticed to give up hunting and gathering and start farming for a living.

They settled in an oasis next to the Jordan River and built a mysterious 8.5-meter (28-foot) stone tower on the edge of town.

When archaeologists discovered it in 1952, it was dated at over 11,000 years old, making it the first and oldest public building ever found, but its purpose and the motivation for erecting it has been debated ever since.

Now, using computer technology, Israeli archaeologists are saying it was built to also mark the summer solstice.

“The tower was constructed by a major building effort. People were working for a very long time and very hard. It was not like the other domestic buildings in Jericho,” the Jerusalem Post quoted Ran Barkai of the Department of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University, who was part of a team that did the computer analysis, as saying.

The stone tower is about nine meters in diameter at its base and conical in shape. Built out of concentric rows of the stones, it also contains an enclosed stairway. Archaeologists say it wasn’t used as a tomb.

Barkai and fellow archaeologist Roy Liran used computers to reconstruct sunsets and found that when the tower was built the nearby mountains cast a shadow on it as the sun set on the longest day of the year.

The shadow fell exactly on the structure and then spread out to cover the entire village.

“The tower is an indication of power struggles at the beginning of the Neolithic period and of the fact that a particular person or people exploited the primeval fears of the residents and persuaded them to build it,” Barkai told The Media Line.

The period when the tower was built was a time when people started to put down literal roots by abandoning hunting and gathering and taking up farming.

But, according to Barkai, people didn’t make the transition easily because farming was actually a harder way of life.

“This was a time when hierarchy began and leadership was established,” Barkai said.

“This was the time that social formations took place and many scientists have wondered why people were moved to produce food, to make the transition to agriculture.

“Agriculture worked for the benefit of certain individuals in the community, because people produce surplus that was stored and then divided by individuals.

“It has been proven that people worked much harder during the Neolithic period than before.

“It was easier to live by hunting and gathering so we believe this tower was one of the mechanisms to motivate people to take part in a communal lifestyle,” he added. (ANI)

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