Dayr Qubbat Al-Hawa



This Coptic monastery, today in ruins, took its name from the hill where a shaykh is buried, on the flanks of which are the tombs of the governors of Aswan during the New Kingdom, in particular those of Koui (Khui) and Kounes (Khune). These tombs seem to have been inhabited by one or more hermits and to have been the nucleus from which developed a monastery or hermitage, the ruins of which can be seen above the tombs. It has sometimes, but without proof, been given the name of or of Saint Laurentius. C. Sicard calls it “of the Saviour” (Vol. 3, pp. 167, 196), as does J. B. d’Anville (p. 215). Denon calls it that of Saint Laurentius (Vol. 2, p. 52). R. Pococke conjectures, because he saw a fresco of Saint George, that it had the patronage of this saint (Vol. 1, p. 118). The 1821-1829 Description de l’Egypte, in the atlas (1828, fol. 1), also names it that of Saint Laurentius.

There are descriptions written when it was less ruined than today. Jomard, for instance, describes it in Description de l’Egypte (“Description de Syene,” Antiquités, Vol. 1, p. 143). Others who wrote on it are F. L. Norden (Vol. 3, pp. 97-99), H. Light (p. 51 [engraving]), G. B. Belzoni (pp. 59-60), and V. de Bock (p. 87). E. A. Wallis Budge wrote on the carried out on the site (pp. 39-40).

The present state is described by O. Meinardus (1965, p. 328; 1977, p. 443).


  • Anville, J. B. d’. Mémoires sur l’Egypte, ancienne et moderne. Paris, 1766.
  • Belzoni, G. B. Narrative of the Operations and Recent Discoveries Within the Pyramids, Temples, Tombs and in Egypt and Nubia. London, 1820.
  • Bock, V. de. Matériaux pour l’archéologie chrétienne d’Egypte. St. Petersburg, 1901.
  • Budge, E. A. W. “ Made at Aswan by Major-General Sir F. Grenfell, During the Years 1885 and 1886.” Proceedings of the Society of Biblical Archaeology 10 (1887-1888):4-40.
  • Denon, V. dans la Haute et la Basse Egypte pendant les campagnes du général Bonaparte, 2 vols. and atlas. Paris, 1802.
  • Description de l’Egypte, 24 vols. of text and 12 vols. of plates, including atlas. Vol. 1. Pancoucke edition. Paris, 1821-1829.
  • Light, H. Travels in Egypt, Nubia, Holy Land, Mount Lebanon and Cyprus in the Year 1814. London, 1818.
  • Meinardus, O. Christian Egypt, Ancient and Modern. Cairo, 1965; 2nd ed., Cairo, 1977.
  • Norden, F. L. d’Egypte et de Nubie, 3 vols. Langlès edition. Paris, 1795-1798.
  • Pococke, R. A Description of the East and Some Other Countries, 2 vols. in 3. London, 1743-1745.
  • Sicard, C. Oeuvres, 3 vols., ed. S. Sauneron and M. Martin. 83-85. Cairo, 1982.




The monastery at Qubbat al-Hawa is a second monastery on the west bank at Aswan, and presumably a dependent of DAYR ANBA HADRA. It might be identified with a monastery of Antonius mentioned by ABU AL-MAKARIM (ed. Evetts, p. 277). According to E. Edel, the site lent itself to the establishment of a monastery, particularly because of the large number of tombs of the nobles of the New Kingdom, which had already been adapted by the monks for use as places in the early Christian period. The church was at first accommodated in the tomb of Khune (Kounes), constructed as a three-aisle pillared hall in which the rooms necessary for the sanctuary were located at the east end. Some traces of walls from this building are still clearly visible, as are the beginning of vaults of a central hanging dome over the altar chamber. In the other tombs, various systems of basins and new floors were introduced, in addition to numerous dividing walls.

The golden age of the monastery, like that of Dayr Anba Hadra, was in the Fatimid period. At that time a large residential building of several stories was erected above the line of tombs, with a central corridor and sleeping rooms arranged on either side (sketch in Monneret de Villard, pp. 16ff., ill. 2). A fairly large building to the southeast of the residential building may have been the refectory. In front of the entrance to the tomb of Khune a new church was erected; it is noteworthy in that it follows the plan of an octagon- domed structure, such as is found in the two other Aswan monasteries, Dayr Anba Hadra and Dayr al-Shaykhah. The ground plan, however, has been distorted to form a parallelogram. Despite the considerable mounds of debris, the supports for the domed area, the ambulatory, and parts of the sanctuary, including the khurus, can be recognized with certainty. Additional domed and vaulted buildings, which are indirectly connected with the church, can be seen northwest of it. The church was connected with the residential buildings on the upper terrace by an outside staircase cut in the rock.


  • Edel, E. Die Felsgräber der Qubbet el Hawa bei Assuan. Wiesbaden, 1967-1975.
  • . “Qubbat al-Hawa.” Lexikon der Ägyptologie, Vol. 5, pp. 54-68. Wiesbaden, 1984.
  • Grossmann, P. “Ein neuer Achtstützenbau im Raum von Aswan in Oberägypten.” In Mélange Gamal Mokhtar, pp. 332-48. d’études coptes 92. Cairo, 1985.
  • Monneret de Villard, U. Il monastero di S. Simeone presso Aswân, pp. 16ff. Milan, 1927.
  • Morgan, J. de. Catalogue des monuments et inscriptions de l’Egypte antique, Vol. 1, p. 158 (tomb of Khui/Koui), pp. 162ff. (tomb of Khune). Vienna, 1894.
  • Timm, S. Das christlich-koptische Ägypten in arabischer Zeit, Vol. 1, p. 234, n. 53. Wiesbaden, 1984.