Around 12 km northwest of Nablus up on the scenic slopes of the Nablus hills stands the village of Sebastya, the site of the ancient city of Samaria. On top of the hill the remains of an Iron Age City were found. Inside the village lies a Crusader’s Church (12 century), which was converted into a mosque with two tomb chambers. The head of John the Baptist is believed to be buried here.
It was during the period of Jeroboan II (between 784-748 BCE) that Samaria reached the peak of its prosperity. It was also the administrative capital of the Samaria province during the Assyrian, Babylonian and Persian rule. In 332BCE, Alexander the Great conquered the city and many Macedonians actually settled in the city. In 30 BCE, the city was then granted to Herod the Great who rebuilt it a called it Sebaste after his sponsor Augustus.