chapter  5
26 Pages

The Desert in History

Some of the world’s oldest and most powerful cities have flourished at desert oases or in close proximity to desert environments, and their names are often rich with historical and legendary associations. The biblical stronghold of Jericho (the Palestinian Ariha), which famously fell to the Hebrew commander Joshua, grew up beside a desert spring and has been inhabited continuously for some 10,000 years. In the fourth millennium B.C., a cluster of cities, including Ur and Erech, developed in arid Mesopotamia, as settlers learned to irrigate even the most unpromising of its lands, and laid the foundations of one of the earliest civilizations.