We’re all familiar with the biblical account of the fall of Jericho. The Israelites march around the wall for seven days and on the seventh day, after the priests blow their horns and everyone screams, the walls came crumbling down and the Israelites destroyed the city. But I wish to find hard evidence to back up the biblical claims.
The first area to look at is if the walls came crumbling down. Obviously, it is impossible to prove if men shouting made them fall, but we can examine if the walls even fell at all.
In 1867, an excavation team led by British engineer Charles Warren dug up a mound call Tell-es-Sultan to find if it was man-made or natural. “Warren dug six vertical shafts to see what was inside the mound.” He found that the mound was indeed man-made. Warren stated, “As a general result on the completion of these excavations it may be said for a certainty that these mounds are artificial throughout, and that they probably are the remains of ancient castles. ” (http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2010/09/top-ten-biblical-discoveries-in-archaeology-3-jericho/) While he would be proven wrong about it being castles, we was right about it being artificial.
Another team from Germany found mudbricks at the base on which the city was built. (http://www.christiananswers.net/q-abr/abr-a011.html)
But it was not until the 1930s that hard evidence of the fall of Jericho would be discovered. From 1930 to 1936, a British archaeologist named John Garstang excavated the site. Garstang found ‘a collapsed double city that he dated to have been from between the late 15th century BCE to the early 14th century BCE. He also found a residential protected by a double wall that had been ‘destroyed in a violent conflagration.’ Based on destruction debris and different treasures that were left behind, Garstang believed the city was destroyed in 1400 BCE. (http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2008/05/Did-the-Israelites-Conquer-Jericho-A-New-Look-at-the-Archaeological-Evidence.aspx#Article)
“In a word, in all material details and in date the fall of Jericho took place as described in the Biblical narrative. Our demonstration is limited, however, to material observations: the walls fell, shaken apparently by earthquake, and the city was destroyed by fire, about 1400 B.C. These are the basic facts resulting from our investigations. The link with Joshua and the Israelites is only circumstantial but it seems to be solid and without a flaw.” (http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2008/05/Did-the-Israelites-Conquer-Jericho-A-New-Look-at-the-Archaeological-Evidence.aspx#Article)
There is also evidence to back up the earthquake theory. As it turns out, the area Jericho is in has had a long history of seismic activity. “Jericho is in a rift valley, an unstable terrain prone to earthquakes.”(http://www.nytimes.com/1990/02/22/world/believers-score-in-battle-over-the-battle-of-jericho.html) Dr. Amos Nur from Stanford also states, “Many times in recorded history, geophysicists say, earthquakes caused landslides and other disruptions leading to a blockage of the Jordan River for one or two days.” (http://www.nytimes.com/1990/02/22/world/believers-score-in-battle-over-the-battle-of-jericho.html) This may also account for the Israelites crossing the Jordan in Joshua 3 but that’s another theory for another time.
So, with all of this evidence, we can assume that everything happened exactly as the Bible states right?
Another excavation was done by Kathleen Kenyon in the 1950s. “She dated the city’s destruction to around 1550 BC, meaning the site had been abandoned and therefore there was no city for the Israelites to capture at the time of the conquest.” (http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2009/01/Jericho-Does-the-Evidence-Disprove-or-Prove-the-Bible.aspx)
However, there is evidence now that she messed up her dating of the fall of Jericho quite badly.
In the 1980s, Dr. Bryant G. Wood, from the University of Toronto, found evidence to disprove Kenyon and found that the city fell around 1400 BCE. “A study of ceramic remnants, royal scarabs, carbon-14 dating, seismic activity in the region and even some ruins of tumbled walls produced what is being called impressive evidence that the fortified city was destroyed in the Late Bronze Age, about 1400 B.C.” (http://www.nytimes.com/1990/02/22/world/believers-score-in-battle-over-the-battle-of-jericho.html) In regards to Kenyon’s excavation, ‘Dr. Wood concluded that she had been looking for the wrong kind of pottery, and in the wrong places. Her limited digging had occurred in what was a poor quarter of the city.’ (http://www.nytimes.com/1990/02/22/world/believers-score-in-battle-over-the-battle-of-jericho.html)
While the biblical account may never be 100% proven through archaeological evidence, we are able to at least determine how much accuracy there is to the story. Whether you believe the biblical account word for word is a matter of faith, but the physical evidence does at least provide some back up to the story.