|(I Kings XVI; 23,24).|
Four ancient cities were destined to rise successively on this hill. The first was for 160 years (880-721 B.C.E.) the royal citadel and city of the kings of Israel. In this city reigned Ahab and Jezebel. Archaeology has brought to light the splendour of their court. In the lower city, as yet unexcavated, lived the people and traders.
In 721 B.C.E. "...the king of Assyria took Samaria, and carried Israel away into Assyria..." (II Kings XVII,6). Thereafter Samaria became the residence of the Assyrian, Persian and Hellenistic governors, who twice rebuilt the city.
With the destruction of Samaria in the Maccabean wars, Herod the Great, in
about 25 B.C.E., built a new, magnificient city and called it Sebastia
(Sebastos is the the Greak equivalent of Augustus) in honour of Augustus