What attracted early settlers to the site is also what kept subsequent civilizations from settling at Pella: access to a permanent source of fresh water which still flows today, and a strategic location on several important trade routes. And interestingly in each period of occupation, Pella appears to have been a flourishing, affluent, influential city.

Although permanently and continuously occupied, several eras stand out as particularly important and worth a mention.  For example during the Bronze Age (approx. 3,000 BCE to 1,500 BCE) Pella reached a peak in size and wealth and archaeologists were surprised to discover in the 1980’s the largest Bronze Age temple in Jordan. The Hellenistic period was also a time of particular affluence for Pella, and it is also the first time that the name ‘Pella’ occurs in written records, which is the name of the birthplace of Alexander the Great.  Under Byzantine rule, Pella continued its role as one of the ten administrative centers of the Decapolis, but it also became the seat of a Bishop. In fact, Pella was at its largest in terms of square meters, during the Byzantine period and hosted three Basilicas, one of which is still visible today.

Pella also played a significant role for followers of the Abrahamic faiths.  The Roman historian Josephus recorded the sacking of Pella in 83 BCE by the Hasmonean leader Alexander Jannaeus because the inhabitants “would not bear to change their religious rites for those peculiar to the Jews”.  Subsequent Roman domination of the area saw Pella incorporated into the Decapolis, and it is in Pella that the Christians of Jerusalem sought refuge from the onslaught of the Roman army during the First Jewish Revolt of 66 CE.  Pella became a primarily Christian city under the Byzantine rule, only to fall to Muslim forces in 635 CE.  The inhabitants of Pella converted over time from Christianity to Islam and the large churches which had dominated the skyline under Byzantine rule were dismantled and reused.

The real and very final downfall of the city was not due to man’s influence, but a huge earthquake in 747 CE which destroyed most of the standing structures and gave us Pella in almost the same state that we see it today.

Sites in the Ajloun Region:

Ajloun Castle

Feel like the king of the world clambering atop this impressive stone castle, a stone playground commanding an astonishing view over the Jordan Valley, strategically built to defend against Crusader invasion in the twelfth century.

Tel Mar Elias

Amid stunning carpets of mosaics stands a sole prayer tree, its popularity indicated by hundreds of pieces of cloth that adorn the branches like blossoms; this site marks the location held by many to be the traditional birth place of the prophet Elijah.

Orjan

Walk along Wadi Orjan to explore the fruit basket of Al Ayoun.

Jesus Cave

Everyone in Jordan seems to know a local legend about the Jesus Cave, whether about Jesus hiking there with his followers, why the tree is always drunk, or why women tread grapes better than men.

Baoun

The Byzantine ruins at its edge testify to Baoun’s place in antiquity. But is is a female Sufi scholar, poet, and mystic that gives the village its distinct legacy.

Rasoun

The village of Rasoun lies at the heart of community-oriented tourism in Jordan. In addition to a walking trail passing millennia-old olive trees and dolmen fields, the village has also invested in recent enterprises like selling herbal soaps and biscuits around the world.

RSCN Shops

Temptations abound for walkers at Al Ayoun’s Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN) natural shops, where some of nature’s best tastes and smells can be sampled as everything from local soaps to trail mixes.