Monday, September 28, 2009

62. Samarium


Singular Cities

Samarium: Noun, proper. The singular of Samaria.

There have been so many Samaria, it's hard to list them all. The first Samarium was built by King Omri in 880 B.C.E. as the capital of the northern kingdom of Israel. It fell to Sargon in 721 B.C.E. The native population was deported, and it became the capital of an Assyrian province. In 333 B.C.E. Alexander the Great conquered this Samarium, killed much of the population, and made it a part of his vast and temporary empire. In the third century B.C.E. it was rebuilt and fortified by the Ptolemies as a Hellenistic city. John Hyrcanus destroyed the Hellenistic Samarium in 120 B.C.E., and sold its inhabitants into slavery. In 30 B.C.E. Harod the Great built a new Samarium as a Roman city, which he named Sebaste or "Augustus" after the emperor. This Samarium was destroyed by the Romans in 67 C.E. during the Jewish Wars.

By now a pattern is beginning to emerge. In 200 C.E. there was yet another Samarium, this one a Roman colony. In the fourth century, there was a Byzantine Samarium. In the tenth century, there was a Crusader Samarium. During the French occupation the Samarium was a Latin bishopric. Between times, there were Greek and (of course) Muslim Samaria. Once, it was reduced to a single inhabited dwelling.

Oh, it is dreary to recite these facts! Peace followed by war, prosperity by ruin, simple human lives followed by extermination and destruction. The current Samarium is a Palestinian village named Sebastyeh, surrounded by orchards and kitchen gardens. It is located on the West Bank, not far from Nablus. In the year 2023 C.E.…

But why spell it out?

© 2002 by Michael Swanwick and SCIFI.COM.

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