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Christianity and Monasticism in Middle Egypt$
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Gawdat Gabra and Hany Takla

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9789774166631

Published to Cairo Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.5743/cairo/9789774166631.001.0001

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Snippets from the Past

Snippets from the Past

Two Ancient Sites in the Asyut Region: Dayr al-Gabrawi and Dayr al-‘Izam

(p.161) 16 Snippets from the Past
Christianity and Monasticism in Middle Egypt

Jacques van der Vliet

American University in Cairo Press

Asyut is one of the most important sites in the Christian history of Egypt. It was a major Christian center and in late antique and early medieval times its hinterland was covered with monastic settlements and sanctuaries devoted to the cult of the martyrs, many of them centers of pilgrimage. Indeed, historical maps of the region show a remarkable density and concentration of Christian sites, stretching from the region of Abnub on the east bank, via the ancient necropolises of Asyut itself, mainly on the west bank, to the region of Shotb, south of the city. Yet all these ancient sites left surprisingly few traces in the modern scholarly record. This somewhat sad state of affairs can be attributed to the ruthless exploitation of the region by would-be archaeologists who, in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, plundered the sites around Asyut, in particular the rich necropolises of the Old and Middle Kingdoms. For the Christian antiquities of the region the loss was disastrous. Architectural remains were destroyed and poorly recorded, if at all. Other evidence, apart from some inscriptions, was sold on the antiquities market to join the mass of objects and documents for which no certain provenance is known and which—as a result—became virtually worthless for historical research. This chapter illustrates these points by briefly evoking the example of two sites that in recent decades have received a certain amount of scholarly interest: Dayr al-Gabrawi (north of Asyut, near Abnub) and Dayr al-ʻIzam (west of Asyut).

Keywords:   Asyut, Egypt, Christian history, Dayr al-Gabrawi, Dayr al-ʻIzam, Christianity

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