Capital of the northern kingdom, Israel, from Omri's time onwards, Samaria stood at a crossroads in the high country of Ephraim. The tell rose some 300ft above the surrounding fields. (This suggests an alternative explanation of the name Shomron to that given in 1 Kgs 16:24, the name may be derived from shmr "watch/guard" - Shomron = watch-hill.)
Remains of Ahab's Palace in Samaria
from McMath Samar01)
Omri's son, Ahab built as his palace, an ivory house (1 Kgs 22:39). This probably means a palace decorated with ivory plaques like those uncovered in the Samaria excavations. A number of these plaques were found, Phoenician in style, though since some are only partly finished, it is likely they were made in Samaria. They are decorated with a variety of pictures and motifs including animals and flowers, often showing Egyptian influence. Some date from Ahab's time, though more come from Jeroboam II.
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