Samaria is mentioned in sources from the Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine periods as a district in Palestine, located between Judea and the Galilee. It extended from the Jezreel valley in the north to the Beth El hills in the south, from the Jordan valley in the east to the Sharon plain in the west. Its southern border with Judea was dynamic, changing frequently. The border changes were only one aspect of the extensive ethnic and demographic changes in the region, which reached their peak in two main periods: the Hasmonean era and the Bar-Kokhba War (the Second Jewish Revolt against Rome, 132–136ce).From the Macedonian conquest through the Ptolemaic and Seleucid periods, there were two main cities in Samaria: the polis of Samaria, which served as a Hellenistic centre of government, and a Samaritan temple-city atop Mount Gerizim. In addition to the literary evidence, archaeological remains have been uncovered in excavations—in the city of Samaria, a large citadel surrounded by towers and the ruins of pagan temples; and on Mount Gerizim, the ruins of a city with a Samaritan cultic compound in its centre.
The Samaritans are an ethno-religious community cognate with, but different from, Judaism. Both religions are branches of Yhwh-worshiping Israelites that parted ways around the turn of the era. Both, however, base their beliefs and religious practices on the Pentateuch/Torah. In the Persian period the Yahwistic Samarians built a temple on Mount Gerizim which eventually came to be seen as a rival temple to the temple in Jerusalem. Thus, the origin of the Samaritans lies in antiquity but a small community still exists today. Besides inscriptions and archaeological finds, our main source for the early history of the Samaritans is Flavius Josephus. For the Late Roman and the Byzantine periods, we have a variety of non-Samaritan texts and Samaritan chronicles. The latter, however, were compiled only in the Middle Ages, although they rely on older sources.Samaritans are an ethno-religious community cognate with, but different from, Judaism. Both religions worship Yhwh as the only god and differ principally with respect to the site that each holds most sacred: Mount Gerizim near the Roman city of Flavia Neapolis (modern Nablus) for the Samaritans and Mount Zion or .