A well-known Mamluke mosque is situated in the grounds of the modern mosque at Samta. The rocky knoll on which the ancient site is centred is riddled with underground houses, chambers, tombs, cisterns and other rock cut installations.
Between the time of the initial reconnaissance visit in April 2006 and our return in December, a significant section of ancient walling had been bulldozed away by the landowner and part of a rock face in order to reveal a large multi-chambered underground house which the owner plans to use as a cow-stable. Modern field walls and bulldozed spoil now cover or obliterate one of the few sections of ancient wall lines which could have been seen in Samta.
Because this area had been so badly disturbed, we decided to spend only two days at Samta, endeavouring to recover some data from the bulldozer spoil. However, the ceramic yield was low. The team was able to document some of the underground houses, which in at least one case looked from the outside as if it were a tomb.
A major survey project is needed to document the rock-cut features of Samta as they are under immediate and serious threat.