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Pella (Modern Tabaqat Fahil)

Date of Submission: 18/06/2001
Criteria: (i)(iii)(iv)
Category: Cultural
Submitted by:
Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities. Department of Antiquities.
Coordinates: Utm East:745800 - Utm North:3593600 UTM Zone:36
Ref.: 1554

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The large site of Pella nestles in the warm, fertile foothills of the north Jordan Valley, about 90 kilometres or an 80-minutes drive from from the capital Amman. It is directly adjacent to the modern village of Tabaqat Fahil, about four kilometres east of the Jordan River, and just over a kilometre east of the village of Mashare, on the main Jordan Valley road. The drive to Pella takes you through some of Jordan’s loveliest forest and mountain terrain in the regions of Salt, Zai, Ajlun and Kufranja . The site comprises the 400-metre- long main mound , the steep Tell Husn to the south and the perennial Wadi Jirm between them; Jabal Abu el- Khas which rises to the east directly behind Wadi Jirm; and the lower reaches of Jabal Sartaba, directly east of Tell Husn. Pella has idyllic warm and dry weather for nine months of the year; June, July and August are hot , with daytime temperatures of over 35 degrees Centigrade. Impressive as they may be , the architectural remains visible on the site today only represent a few of the ancient Periods during which Pella was inhabited. Most of the visible structures date from the Roman, Byzantine and Islamic periods (2nd – to- 14th Centuries AD) though Pella was permanently inhabited, or used as a seasonal hunting, camping, flint- knapping or herding site , during almost every preceding historical and pre- historical period- including the Hellenistic, Persian, Iron, Bronze, Chalcolithic, Neolithic, and paleolithic periods. HISTORY Pella has been inhabited without interruption for perhaps the past 6.000 years, while the region around the site shows signs of human activity dating back around a million years. In many ways, Pella is a microcosm of the several factors and resources which have shaped human history in the land of Jordan since the dawn of civilization: geography and climate, communication routes, regional and international trade , and the availability of arable land, perennial water, and forest and animal resources. Recent excavations have uncovered substantial amounts of Early Bronze Age pottery on the summit of Tell Husn, suggesting that the EB town included domestic areas , or possible defensive or lockout facilities . Soon after , in the Middle and late Bronze Ages (2000- 1200 BC) , Pella was the site of a substantial walled town which lasted for nearly 1.500 years. We know it from ancient historical references and from recent archaeological excavations of MB and LB fortification walls, and from domestic structures and rock- cut tombs. The main mound deep cut (area III) and a nearby probe (area xxxv) have revealed massive stone and mud – brick fortification walls, some up to five metres thick , and four distinct MB/LB. architectural periods. The mud- brick MB fortification wall, still partly visible in area vicinity of the main mound. Late Bronze domestic structures included thick stone walls , smaller mud – brick walls on stone bases, white – plastered floors , and a fire –pit with the remains of at least two tawabeen ( bread ovens) . The substantial architecture was complemented by a wide array of cultural artifacts and imported goods, indicating that Pella had traded widely throughout the eastern Mediterranean. The city derived its income from a combination of trade, agriculture and industry , and – according to the evidence of imported objects, which appear at pella throughout the Middle and Late Bronze Age , its inhabitants traded with Egypt, Syria and Cyprus and other regional centres.