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Place Descriptions

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> From the Ottomans to Modem Times
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> The Samaritan Creed
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> The Minerals and Climate in Samaria
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ZABABDEH
   
submitted by Turathuna Bethlehem University
22.01.2007

Father E. Hoacie recounts that in 1834 the family of a deserter from Ibrahim Pasha's army moved here, together with three Christian families from Taiyibeh. Victor Guerin does not mention the village in his work published in 1870, which is the authoritative text for the time. However, an urban centre must have existed, if not in 1870 at least in 1874, because this is the date inscribed above the door of the Greek Orthodox Church.

What might be called a romantic theory of the foundation of Zababdeh has also been put forward. In some part of the region, a tribal feud had become so virulent as to threaten the extinction of one of the Arab tribes involved. Out of kindness, or in order to get his land tilled, a pasha allowed one of these tribes to move to one of his abandoned properties. Thus the village has its origin in blood-shed.

The origin of the name is equally obscure. It might represent the name of an older village, which survived even after the village had become a ruin; it might be new; it might be connected with the Biblical name Zebed, Zebedee. Still today the name exists in various versions: Zababdeh, which is the commonest, Zababideh, Zababdee, Zabidia and others similar. In actual fact it is not even possible to determine if the village gave the name to the plain which surrounds it, or vice versa.

Some interning remains are to be seen within the monastic walls of the Sisters of the Rosary, where two fragments of mosaic floors survive. One made up of large tesserae and of simple design, is partly covered by a stairway. The other is in the main building, which holds the school, near the entrance door and especially in the room facing east. The geometric designs are made up of multi-coloured tesserae (white, red, green, yellow and black), and represent circles, diamonds, cords entwined, etc. The complexity of the motifs points to the sixth century.

In the house of the Sisters of the Rosary there are also pieces of columns and capitals preserved in situ. Some capitals are in classical style, with volutes and acanthus leaves; one deviates from the conventional scheme: it has fat, symmetrical leaves, more or less like the ones in the mosaic motifs, and is considered one of the most original pieces of the period.

From the remains the archaeologists have concluded that here there existed a Byzantine church with three naves, of a certain elegance. It was most probably a village church rather than that of a religious community.

In what is now the urban centre other remains have been found, including those of an oil-press, one of the many from the Roman and Byzantine periods. To the West are to be found the remains of an imposing building, which, judging by the structure and the round arch, goes back to Roman times. There survives the arch, half buried, and a fair stretch of wall with regular rows of very large square stones, on which a modern house has been built. The local people call these ruins 'Baubariya,' the vaulted building.

Zababdeh is an exception to the rule in the sur¬rounding countryside. Whereas in all the other villages of Samaria the Moslems are a majority, the population of Zababdeh is mainly Christian.

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