Three separate settlements have existed at or near the current location for more than 11,000 years. The position is on an east-west route north of the Dead Sea.
The first archaeological excavations of the site were made by Charles Warren in 1868. Ernst Sellin and Carl Watzinger excavated Tell es-Sultan and Tulul Abu el-'Alayiq between 1907-1909 and in 1911. John Garstang excavated between 1930 and 1936. Extensive investigations using more modern techniques were made by Kathleen Kenyon between 1952 and 1958. Lorenzo Nigro and Nicolo Marchetti conducted a limited excavation in 1997. Later that same year, Dr. Bryant Wood also made a visit to the site to verify the findings of the earlier 1997 team.