2017 | XXX | 409–430
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Samaria-Sebaste. Portrait of a polis in the Heart of Samaria

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King Herod of Iudaea (37–4 BCE) was a great master builder of the late Hellenistic and early Roman era. The two most important building enterprises initiated by him were the city and the port of Caesarea Maritima and Samaria-Sebaste. Both cities were named in honor of the Caesar Augustus and in each of these cities he erected temples dedicated to the Imperial cult. Among various public compounds erected in Samaria-Sebaste, such as the forum and the basilica, we find a gymnasium-stadium complex. The very existence of the latter testifies to the character of Samaria-Sebaste as the real polis populated mainly by the Hellenized Syro-Phoenicians. While the establishment of Caesarea Maritima with its port was a political-ideological declaration, Samaria-Sebaste was above all a power base and a stronghold loyal to the king.
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