Less than 2 miles (about 3 km) south of the village of al-Barsha, on the right bank of the Nile, are some tombs from ancient Egypt, known as the tombs of al-Shaykh Sa‘id. They were later fitted up as dwellings, like those of Bani Hasan, and one of them served as a chapel. Others were transformed into cells, and sometimes a door was cut to connect two tombs.
The complex is described by Davies (1901, esp. pls. VII, 7, 11, 13, 14, 33), by Badawy (1953), and by Meinardus (1965, 1977).
The tombs are called Dayr Abu Fam by the inhabitants of the region, and are described by that name by Nestor L’Hôte, Davies, and Meinardus. This perhaps indicates that the painting in the chapel, said to be of Saint George, is in reality that of PHOIBAMMON. Four graffiti are reproduced by Sayce (1885- 1886, p. 186, 1886-1887, p. 192).
- Badawy, A. “Les Premiers établissements chrétiens dans les anciennes tombes d’Egypte.” In Tome commémoratif du millinaire de la Bibliothèque patriarcale d’Alexandrie. Publications de l’Institut d’Etudes orientales de la Bibliothèque patriarchal d’Alexandrie 2. Alexandria, 1953.
- Crum, W. E. “Christian Egypt.” In Archaeological Report 11, ed. F. 58. Griffith (1901-1902):48-58.
- Davies, N. de Garis. “Archaelogical Survey.” In Archaeological Report 8, ed. F. Ll. Griffith (1899-1900):4-7.
- . The Rock Tombs of Sheikh Sa‘id. London, 1901.
- L’Hôte, N. Lettres écrites d’Egypte en 1838 et 1839. Paris, 1840. Meinardus, O. Christian Egypt, Ancient and Modern. Cairo, 1965; 2nd ed., 1977.
- Sayce, A. H. “Coptic and Early Christian Inscriptions in Upper Egypt.” Proceedings of the Society of Biblical Archaeology 4 (1885-1886):175-91.
- . “Dated Inscriptions of Amenophis III.” Proceedings of the Society of Biblical Archaeology 9 (1886-1887):195-97.
MAURICE MARTIN, S.J.