An ancient small village on the outskirts of Cairo northeast of the city. There is some uncertainty about its name. One possibility emerges when one extrapolates from three different accounts of the martyrdom of Saint APOLI. The end of the Coptic martyrdom indicates that a memorial church was to be built in which his body would be entombed. Later a flourishing town named Pesenetai sprang up at the site. Another version of the martyrdom relates that after some time the body of Apoli was transferred from Pesenetai to a place named Psobt-m-p-hoi. W. E. Crum (1907, p. 291) and H. G. Evelyn-White (1926, p. 92, n. 5) deduced that this Psobt-m-p-hoi was the Coptic name of al-Khandaq from the fact that the Arabic SYNAXARION gives al-Khandaq as the name of the place where the body of Apoli was kept for a time. That Psobt-m-p- hoi means “the wall of the moat” and al-Khandaq means “the moat” adds strength to the deduction.
Another name presented by the medieval list of Egyptian churches and monasteries is Shats, which stands as the Coptic equivalent of al-Khandaq. The available evidence does not point to an obvious answer to this puzzle, but among the possible solutions are the following: al-Khandaq may have been known in Coptic as Psobt-m-p-hoi at an earlier period and as Shats in a later era; Psobt- m-p-hoi may have been a village, in which the body of Apa Apoli was kept for a time before it was brought to al-Khandaq, which was known in Coptic as Shats.
[See also: Dayr al-Khandaq.]
- Amélineau, E. La Géographie de l’Egypte a l’époque copte. Paris, 1893.
- Crum, W. E. “Hagiographica from Leipzig Manuscripts.” Proceedings of the Society of Biblical Archaeology 29 (1907):289-96, 301-307.
- Evelyn-White, H. G. The Monasteries of the Wadi ‘n Natrun, pt. 1. New York, 1926.
- Timm, S. Das christlich-koptische Ägypten in arabischer Zeit, pt. 3, pp. 1082-87. Wiesbaden, 1985.