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‘Oldest Fortified City in the World’ – UNESCO honours Tell el-Sultan in Palestine

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« UNESCO has voted to include the ancient archaeological site Tell el-Sultan, literally meaning the ‘Sultan’s Hill’, in Jericho, on the World Heritage List in Palestine, declaring it ‘the oldest fortified city in the world’.
Jericho is situated within the West Bank, an area administered by the Palestinian Authority. The decision has been met with enthusiasm by local authorities and experts.
 »This site has universal values that made it eligible to apply for the World Heritage list. It is the oldest agricultural settlement in the world. This location, Ain al-Sultan, had witnessed the human transition from a life of gathering to a life of hunting and agriculture. God willing, being on the list will help preserve it and provide the people economic benefits, » said Iyad Hamdan, General Director of Tourism and Antiquities in Jericho.
The Tell el-Sultan area contains prehistoric ruins dating back to the ninth millennium BC, predating even the Egyptian pyramids.
 »It features 29 layers of ancient civilisations, starting from the the Natufian period, where people built the oldest tower in history, and the beginning of the construction of semi-elliptical houses, rectangular houses, pottery, and economic systems, all of this was in this location, » Hamdan further elaborated.
For its part, Israel’s Foreign Ministry has expressed reservations about the decision, viewing it as another instance of the Palestinian Authority’s politicisation of UNESCO, according to media reports.
 »It is not strange for Israel to object to this decision, under false pretexts. The Israeli occupation competes with us in everything, shares with us and encroaches on every meter of Palestinian land. Israel’s position is not unusual as it confirms that we are on the path to independence. Moreover, when UNESCO, the largest international organization, and the World Heritage Committee recognise it as being under Palestinian control, this is a Palestinian achievement in itself, » explained Hamdan.
The decision was taken at a meeting of the UN World Heritage Committee in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. »



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