Abila of the Decapolis
Located near Jordan’s border with Syria, about 3 miles south of the Yarmuk River, Abila belonged to a confederation of ten hellenized cities in northeastern Palestine referred to in the New Testament as the Decapolis (Matthew 4:25; Mark 7:31). Archaeological surveys and excavations at Abila, overseen by W. Harold Mare (Covenant Theological Seminary), began in 1980 and so far has revealed water tunnels, painted tombs, fine mosaics and seven churches (including a seventh-century A.D. cruciform church), evidence that Late Roman-Byzantine Abila was a town of considerable size and sophistication. An inscription found in one of the water tunnels indicates that Abila had a bishop in the mid-sixth century A.D.
In the 2004 season, director Mare hopes to continue exploring Abila’s Roman and Byzantine remains, and to probe areas of the site associated with the much earlier Bronze and Iron Ages. Abila is open to visitors year-round; guided tours may be arranged in advance.