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Political Problems Equal Neglect for Ancient Sebastia

Monday, June 03, 2013


SEBASTIA, WEST BANK—According to the peace agreements of the 1990s, most of the 3,000-year-old city of Sebastia is under the control of Israel, but some of the site sits in areas controlled by Palestinian civilians. Once known as Samaria, the capital of the Kingdom of Israel, Sebastia was later occupied by Romans, Crusaders, and Ottomans. Sebastia is also known as the traditional burial place of John the Baptist. Israel and Palestine are supposed to share security responsibilities for the archaeological site, but since the Palestinian uprising in late 2000, maintenance and protection of Sebastia has been neglected, leaving its treasures vulnerable to looting and decay. “In this period really Sebastia is suffering a lot because a lot of illegal excavations have happened in this area. A lot of destruction of cultural heritage in this area has happened,” commented Palestinian architect Osama Hamdan.