UNESCO adds Palestine's prehistoric site, Tell al-Sultan, to its World Heritage list

This marks the fourth Palestinian site to be listed on UNESCO's World Heritage list, joining the Church of the Nativity and the Old City of Hebron
In frame: Tell al-Sultan
In frame: Tell al-Sultan

UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) made a significant decision on Sunday to inscribe the prehistoric site of Tell al-Sultan, located near the Palestinian city of Jericho in the occupied West Bank, onto its World Heritage List. However, the move has been met with criticism from Israel.

Tell al-Sultan, an oval-shaped tell or mound in the Jordan Valley, predates Egypt's pyramids and holds ancient deposits of human activity. The decision to include the site on the World Heritage List was made during UNESCO's 45th World Heritage Committee Meeting held in Riyadh and was subsequently posted on various platforms, including X.

“The property proposed for nomination is the prehistoric archaeological site of Tell al-Sultan, located outside the antique site of Jericho,” stated UNESCO's assistant director general, Ernesto Ottone, during the session. The inscription followed a three-year candidacy period during which no state party raised objections.

UNESCO's listing emphasises Tell al-Sultan's significance as an integral part of the diverse Palestinian heritage, marking it as a site of exceptional human value. Palestinian tourism minister Rula Maayah, who attended the meeting in Riyadh, praised the listing, underscoring the site's importance as the world's oldest fortified city and emphasising its worthiness of being designated a World Heritage Site.

The site's history dates back to the 9th to 8th millennium BC, and the fertile oasis and abundant water sources contributed to the emergence of a permanent settlement during that era, according to UNESCO's description on its website. The site's archaeological findings provide insights into cultic practices and early urban planning during the Neolithic and Bronze Age periods.

Tell al-Sultan is regarded as the oldest continuously inhabited settlement globally and has been under excavation for over a century. This marks the fourth Palestinian site to be listed on UNESCO's World Heritage list, joining the Church of the Nativity and the Old City of Hebron.

Jericho, one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world, has become a significant tourist attraction in the Palestinian territories. UNESCO's listing also advocates for the protection of other archaeological sites in Jericho, highlighting the historical interest and importance of preserving these sites.

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