Detail of NE corner of "checkerboard" mosaic, from N, Pella

Drain and walls along W side of agora, from N, Pella

Stone northeast-southwest running drain covered by reused terracotta rooft...

Capital of SE column of peristyle court of House of the Lion Hunt, from S,...

Two shops at E end of agora, from S, Pella

Molding on base of wall in house with the mosaics, from W, Pella

Summary: Capital city of Macedonia and birthplace of Philip II and Alexander the Great.
Type: Fortified city
Region: Macedonia




Pella is located on low hills at the edge of swampy ground which was formerly a lagoon navigable to the Thermaic Gulf. Within the ca. 3.5 square km city, which was laid out on the Hippodamian grid system, are the royal palace, civic and religious buildings, and the luxurious houses of Macedonian officials. The main finds thus far are a number of large Macedonian houses with peristyle courts and rich mosaics.


Pella was founded ca. 400 B.C. as the new capital of Macedonia by King Archelaus. The city was the birthplace of Philip II and Alexander the Great and it grew in size and prestige at a pace with the Hellenistic Empire. The city reached its peak in political and artistic influence at ca. 274-239 B.C.

With the defeat of the last king of Macedonia in 168 B.C. Pella lost importance and was overshadowed by the growing city of Thessalonica on the coast.


Trial excavations by G. Oikonomos in 1912. Major excavations by P. Petsas and C. Makaronas in 1957-1964, continued in 1970.

Sources Used:

Leekley and Efstratiou 1980, 94-95; PECS, 685-86; Rossiter 1977, 525-26

Other Bibliography:

P. Petsas, Pella, Studies in Mediterranean Archaeology no. 14. (Lund 1964). P. Petsas, Pella, Alexander the Great's Capital. Institute for Balkan Studies 182 (Thessaloniki 1978) (and in ILN 2, Aug. 1958). Reports in ArchDelt: 4 (1918) 1-29; 16 (1960) Chr. 72-83; 17 (1960/1) Chr. 209ff; 18 (1963) Chr. 200ff; 19 (1964) Chr. 334-44; 20 (1965) Chr. 412ff; 23 (1968) 334-36; 26 (1971) Chr. 396ff; 27 (1972) Chr. 505ff; 30 (1975) Mel. 165-84. Archaeology: 11 (1958) 246-54; 17 (1964) 74ff. Balkan Studies: 1 (1960) 113-28; 4 (1963) 155-70; 5 (1964) 294ff. JHS 85 (1965) 72ff. Prakt: (1914) 127-48; (1915) 237-44. AM 51 (1926) 75-97. BCH 86 (1962) 805-13.