Archaeologists solve tower of Jericho puzzle?

February 18th, 2011 - 3:53 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Feb 18 (IANS) Discovered by archaeologists in 1952, a 28-foot-high stone tower on the edge of the town of Jericho has puzzled scientists since. But now, a team of archaeologists have shed light on who built the structure and why. Tel Jericho, located in modern day Jericho in the West Bank, is one of the most ancient sites in the world.

Now, 11 millennia after it was built, research by doctoral student Roy Liran and Ran Barkai, archaeologists at Tel Aviv University (TAU), sheds light on who built the 28-foot-high tower — and why, the journal Antiquity reports.

Liran and Barkai believe that the tower, which took about 10 years to be built, indicates power struggles at the beginning of the Neolithic period, according to a TAU statement.

A particular person or some people exploited the primeval fears and cosmological beliefs of Jericho’s residents in persuading them to build it, they said.

“Reconstruction of the sunset revealed to us that the shadow of the hill as the sun sets on the longest day of the year falls exactly on the Jericho tower, envelops the tower and then covers the entire village,” the researchers explained.

“For this reason, we suggest that the tower served as an earthly element, connecting the residents of the site with the hills around them, and with the heavenly element of the setting sun.”

They pointed out that this is the first instance of human beings erecting such a tall structure, even before the transition to agriculture and food production in the region.

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