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Central region, ancient Palestine. Extending about 40 mi (65 km) north-south and 35 mi (55 km) east-west, it was bounded by Galilee to the north, Judaea to the south, the Mediterranean Sea to the west, and the Jordan River to the east. It corresponds roughly to the northern portion of the modern West Bank territory. Ancient Shechem (near modern Nablus) was the region's crossroads and political centre until the Assyrian conquest of Israel in the 8th century BC. The town of Samaria, its capital, was built by King Omri c. 880 BC. It was taken by Sargon IIc. 724–721 BC, and its inhabitants were transported into captivity. It was rebuilt by Herod the Great, who renamed it Sebaste in honour of the Roman emperor Augustus (Greek, Sebastos). In AD 6 the region became part of the Roman province of Judaea.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Samaria, visit Britannica.com.