The modern village of Sabastiyah now occupies the site where the ancient city of Samaria stood.
Named for Shemer who owned the land, Samaria was built by King Omri as the capitol of the northern kingdom of Israel in the 9th century B.C.
Hebrew prophets considered Samaria a city of iniquity because of the wickedness of Omri's son Ahab and Ahab's wife Jezebel.
Samaria fell in 721 B.C. to Sargon who deported the native population and made it the capitol of an Assyrian province. (1 Kings 16:23; 20:1-21; 2 Kings 6:24-33; 10:17-28; 13:9-13,17.)
In 120 B.C. it was destroyed by John Hyrcanus and rebuilt by Herod the Great, who called it Sebaste. Philip preached there and the incident with Simon the magician (Acts 8:5-24) occurred. It is believed that John the Baptist was buried there. The old gateway, before which sat the lepers when the city was besieged by the Syrians (2 Kings 7:3-5) is still in place though the foremost defenses that now remain are Roman. The city has given its name to the Samaritans, of whom a small remnant still live at Nablus and Jaffa, Israel.
The continual distrust between Jew and Samaritan no doubt governed the choice of characters in Jesus' parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37).