petra jordan

Excavating Ancient Pella, Jordan

Archaeology Investigates the Jerusalem Christians’ Escape to Pella

In ancient Pella, Jordan, archaeology can take you back over 8,000 years of history. The Civic Complex at the base of the mound of ancient Pella includes a large columned church from the Byzantine period. But many of the first modern explorers to visit Pella, Jordan, were looking for evidence of the earliest Christians’ escape to Pella from Jerusalem in the first century. Did it really happen?Photo by Hershel Shanks
The fourth-century church historian Eusebius of Caesarea tells of the earliest Christians’ escape to Pella, Jordan, from Jerusalem just before the latter city was destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D. Did this miraculous event occur? Is there evidence of first-century Christians at ancient Pella, Jordan?
As ancient Pella’s current excavation director Stephen Bourke explains in the May/June 2013 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review, at Pella, Jordan, archaeology can transport you back through over 8,000 years of history, so you have to be interested in every period. That wasn’t exactly true of ancient Pella’s first modern explorers, however. Their focus was on finding remains of the first-century followers of Jesus who reportedly fled from Jerusalem to Pella, Jordan.
The first settlers at ancient Pella arrived in the Neolithic period, around 7500 B.C., and the site’s occupation continued for thousands of years. When it came to first-century A.D. settlement at Pella, Jordan, archaeology surprisingly produced practically no remains. It seems that no one was living there at the time. Soon after, the Romans resettled ancient Pella in the second century and developed it into a thriving economic center.

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