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Sebastia

Dima Srouji

Palestine

25'

2020

Sebastia, a small archaeological town, sits on top of a hill Northwest of Nablus, Palestine surrounded by Shavei Shomron, an illegal Israeli settlement and confiscated agricultural fields of olive groves and apricot trees. This ancient site was excavated multiple times over the last century by colonial archaeologists funded by Zionist individuals and institutions. The first excavation of 1908 led by Harvard University took advantage of Sebastia locals including women, men, and children as cheap labor digging their own land for the sake of biblical archaeology. Each excavation extracted soil and artifacts from the ground, taking what they considered valuable to their home institutions and leaving pottery shards and rubble on the surface. Today, what’s left of the archaeological monuments is contested by the nearby settlement as well as the Israeli military. The Roman Forum is a battlefield, but the locals are incredibly resilient.