February 2006

Pella and Umm Qeis. I visited both sites with my friend Ala'. It was a day long excursion and felt it to our bones by the time we returned to Amman.


Pella is located in the Jordan valley some 78 miles 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 honor 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 Decapolis were twelve (despite the name) cities in Palestine, Jordan and southern Syria which were centres of Greco-Roman culture. 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 Great Jewish Revolt. It is half an hour's drive from Irbid in northern Jordan.
The city proper was destroyed by earthquake in 749. A small village remains in the area. Only small portions of the ruins have been excavated.

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Umm Qeis

Umm Qais was, like Pella, a city of the Decapolis (a Roman group of ten cities). A this time, the city was called Gadara. The town was located on a commercial road beteen Syria and Palestine.
Today, Umm Qais is located at a strategic crossroad between Syria and Israël. You can seen Tibériade Lake and Golan Heights. Most of the tourists don't come here to admire the old city but to look at their former land.

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