A view of Tell es-Sultan, the site of ancient Jericho. Photograph by Tamar Hayardeni.
Tell es-Sultan, or ancient Jericho, is the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in the ancient Near East, dating back more than 11,000 years. Rich soil and abundant fresh water make the site ideal for habitation. Jericho features prominently in the Bible. In the book of Joshua, Joshua and the Israelites capture the city of Jericho. The road between Jerusalem and Jericho is the setting for the parable of the Good Samaritan in the New Testament. The Gospels state that Jesus passed through Jericho, where he healed a blind man. Jericho has a rich nonbiblical history, too; it once served as the private estate for Alexander the Great. During Roman rule, Mark Antony gifted Jericho to Cleopatra. Today Jericho is held under Israeli occupation with administrative control by the Palestinian Authority.