Courtesy Pella Excavation Project

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 containing a finely carved sarcophagus that dates to 80–150 A.D. (shown here). The apse was carefully located over the grave, suggesting that it was the burial place of someone important, such as a martyr.