Courtesy Pella Excavation Project

EARLY EVANGELIST OR BYZANTINE BISHOP? During the first season of digging, in spring 1967, the excavation team under the direction of Robert H. Smith focused on a church complex west of the main mound, which they called the West Church. Below the northern apse of this late Byzantine triapsidal church, Smith and his team discovered a stone-lined grave (shown here) containing a finely carved sarcophagus that dates to 80–150 A.D. The apse was carefully located over the grave, suggesting that it was the burial place of someone important, such as a martyr. Could this be the grave of one of the early church leaders who escaped to Pella from Jerusalem in the first century? Carbon dating of the skeletal remains in the sarcophagus produced a date in the sixth century A.D. Because the bones were badly degraded by some kind of acidic solution, however, new, more accurate tests may reveal a much different result.