One of the most important sites from biblical times is neglected and deteriorating today. Samaria, the third and most significant capital of the kingdom of Israel, is prey to looters and vandals, as reported in yesterday in an article by the Associated Press.
“Sebastia, the archaeological site, is abandoned without any control from 2000. It’s 13 years,” said Osama Hamdan, a Palestinian architect who has coordinated the restoration works of Crusader-era buildings with [Carla] Benelli. “A lot of destruction of cultural heritage in this area has happened.”
He said statues, vases, coins and glasses have all been taken by looters.
Weeds grow freely among the archaeological ruins, sticking out from the ancient stones. Plastic bottles and food bags are littered at the bottom of the staircase that leads to a Crusader cathedral – also site of a mosque – where the tomb of John the Baptist is said to be located in the village of Sebastia. Finely decorated stone Roman tombs in the center of the village are smashed and abandoned.
At a Byzantine church dedicated to John the Baptist, located in the Israeli-controlled part, graffiti hailing the Hamas militant group is spray-painted on a column. The Islamic expression of faith – “There is no god but God” – is written in Arabic over the entrance.
The full article is here.
HT: Charles Savelle
Photo from Samaria and the Center