Dayr Abirun


On the testimony of ABU SALIH THE ARMENIAN, who is the only one to mention it (fol. 92; 1895, p. 257), a monastery in the district of Busir Quridus (an abbreviation of Dioscurides), today called Busir al-Malaq, on the of the Nile, at the same latitude as DAYR AL-MAYMUN.

The name attested by Abu Salih could be that of the martyr Piroou, whose name is sometimes corrupted in Arabic into Abirum or even Abirun. He is listed at 3 Abib in the SYNAXARION (Forget, 1905-1926, Vols. 67 [text], p. 212, and 90 [trans.], pp. 208-210). Abu Salih adds that the last Umayyad caliph, Marwan II, came to this monastery before being killed not far from there. The site of the monastery is therefore linked with that of the death of Marwan in 750.

Abu Salih places this event at Busir Quridus, as do the historians al-Makin and Ibn Zawlaq and the geographer Yaqut (Abbott, 1937, p. 53; Ibn Duqmaq, 1893, Vol. 5, p. 2); however, in another passage (fol. 77a; 1895, p. 221), where he is following the information given in the Life of the patriarch I, he indicates that Marwan was killed at Cleopatra, the town founded by Alexander, which is now al-Ashmunayn.

This Life, which forms part of the HISTORY OF THE PATRIARCHS, first relates that a Syrian stylite predicted the death of Marwan II, saying that he would be killed at Abu Abis, at Cleopatra (History of the Patriarchs, PO 5, 1909, p. 156; Evetts erroneously corrects Abu Abis to Arsinoë), and then places the defeat and death of the caliph at the Mountain of Abah (or Babah, in the oldest manuscript) to the west of Cleopatra, but without indicating which Cleopatra is intended (ibid., p. 186). At least three are known, not to mention the place-name Cleopatris, which could have been confused by the copyists.

A little further on (p. 187), the narrator indicates again that Marwan was taken prisoner at Dawatun, but the very variable ways of writing this name in the manuscripts make its location uncertain. The History of the Patriarchs thus seems to take account of divergent testimonies, but only Abu Salih identifies the Cleopatra of which the History speaks with the town of the same name near al-Ashmunayn.


  • Abbott, N. The Monasteries of the . Studies in Ancient Oriental 16. Chicago, 1937.
  • Ibn Duqmaq. al-Intisar, ed. C. Vollers. Cairo, 1893; repr. Beirut, 1966.
  • Maspéro, J., and G. Wiet. Matériaux pour servir à la géographie de l’. Mémoire de l’Institut français dArchéologie orientale 36. Cairo, 1919.