Dayr Abu Halbanah

DAYR ABU HALBANAH

This monastery is mentioned only by ABU SALIH THE ARMENIAN (1895, p. 243). He states that it is to the east of AKHMIM and that a spring there flows from the mountain and runs into a basin. It may be remarked that to the east of Akhmim there is today a large wadi called Wadi al-Jilbanah, whose name may correspond to that attested by Abu Salih. This could be so if the has forgotten a diacritical point under the letter j, the latter having the same form as the h and being distinguished from it only by a point placed below the letter.

It must be noted that al- at 3 in the Coptic calendar (Coquin, 1975-1976, pp. 398-99) records that there was a cult of a saint by this nick-name (Jilbanah—given perhaps because he fed himself on wild beans for which the word is julbanah; see Jomard, Vol. 17, p. 88). One would be tempted to identify Dayr Abu Halbanah either with Dayr Mar Jirjis (which, however, is to the south of Akhmim) or with Dayr al-‘Adhra (which is less than 2 miles [3 km] from the beginning of Wadi Abu Jilbanah).

In the eighteenth century a traveler, Bert, a major in the Army of the Orient, said he saw near Akhmim what he called “Deir Halaouba-Come” (Couyat, 1911, pp. 139-84). Could Dayr Abu Halbanah be seen in this badly spelled name? This nearby spring, which runs into a basin, resembles a site called DAYR AL-SAB‘AT JIBAL (Monastery of the Seven Mountains) by al-Maqrizi (1853, Vol. 2, p. 504).

All the same, European travelers since the eighteenth century have described a site to the east of Akhmim that strangely resembled that noted by Abu Salih and that they called “Dermadoud” (Dayr Ma’dud or Dayr al-Madwid; cf. Lucas, 1719, Vol. 2, p. 362, and Pococke, 1743-1745, Vol. 1, p. 78); Maspero (1886, pp. 232-42) described the state of the site in 1880-1886. Meinardus gave a more recent of its state (1965, p. 298; 1977, p. 410).

It seems then that we may identify Abu Salih’s Dayr Abu Halbanah with the Dayr al-Ma’dudi.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

  • Coquin, R.-G. “Le Calendrier copte des fêtes de saints chez al- Qalqashandi.” Parole de l’Orient 6-7 (1975-1976):387-411. Vols. 6-7 are also Mélanges Graffin (Studies presented to Prof. Fr. Graffin).
  • Couyat, J. “Dayr Abu Halbanah.” From the notes of Bert, Chef de bataillon d’artillerie dans l’armée d’Orient. Bulletin de l’Institut français d’Archéologie orientale 9 (1911):137-84.
  • Jomard, E. F. de l’Egypte, Vols. 11-17, Etat moderne. 2nd ed., Paris, 1822.
  • Lucas, P. Troisième voyage du sieur fait en 1714. Rouen, 1719.
  • Maspero, G. “ à l’Institut egyptien sur les fouilles et travaux exécutés en Egypte en 1885-86.” Bulletin de l’Institut d’Egypte (2nd ser.) 7 (1886):232-42.
  • Meinardus, O. Christian Egypt, Ancient and Modern. Cairo, 1965; 2nd ed., 1977.
  • Pococke, R. A of the East and Some Other Countries. London, 1743-1745.

RENÉ-GEORGES COQUIN