Map of the Decapolis showing the location of Pella.
Pella is located in the Jordan valley some 130 km north of Amman, and the site has been continuously occupied since Neolithic times. First mentioned in the 19th century BC in Egyptian inscriptions, its name was Hellenised to Pella, perhaps to honour Alexander the Great‘s birthplace. The Roman city, of which some spectacular ruins remain, supplanted the Hellenistic city. During this period Pella was one of the cities making up the Decapolis. The city was the site of one of Christianity’s earliest churches. According to Eusebius of Caesarea it was a refuge for Jerusalem Christians in the 1st century AD who were fleeing the Jewish–Roman wars.
Children playing football in the ancient ruins of Pella in September 2004.
Pella, Jordan Classical Pella, 2005
The University of Sydney and the Jordanian Department of Antiquities have been conducting excavations at Pella since 1979. In recent years, led by Stephen Bourke, the focus has been on the site’s Bronze Age and Iron Age temples and administrative buildings. A Canaanite temple was uncovered from 1994 to 2003. In May 2010 Stephen Bourke announced the discovery of a city wall and other structures, dating back to 3400BC, indicating that Pella was a formidable city-state at the same time the cities of Sumer were taking shape.
Just below the ancient site is a mosque which commemorates the death of one of the Companions of the Prophet Mohammed, who fell in battle here during the Battle of Fahl in January 635 AD.
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