Stone Age hunters roamed the hills around Pella as long ago as 250,000 BC, a number of camp sites dated 20,000-8000 BC were found in the nearby Wadi al-Hammeh, and by 5000 BC there was a Neolithic farming village at Pella itself.

Pella is referred to in other historical documents. Letters from el-Amarna in Egypt (14Century BC) attest contact between the pharaohs and Pella’s rulers, one of whom was called Mut-ba’alu. Known as Pihil in Egyptian texts, it supplied Egypt with a kind of wood used for spokes in chariot wheels (13C BC).

Pella’s fortunes took a turn for the worse in 83 BC when the Hasmonaean ruler of Palestine, Alexander Jannaeus, crossed the Jordan and sacked the city. According to Josephus this was because its inhabitants refused to practice Jewish customs.

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.


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