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 (shown here). Below the northern apse (at upper left in the photo) 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. The apse was carefully located over the grave, suggesting that it was the burial place of someone important, such as a martyr.