DAYR ABU MATTA (Dakhlah Oasis)
The ruins of a church lying on a small hill, immediately beside the road about 12.5 miles (20 km) north of Mut. Despite its construction in simple mud bricks, it has been preserved remarkably well. The outer walls are still standing in part to a considerable height, and on all sides several large windows can be seen. The interior forms a three-aisled BASILICA (wrongly described by Mills [1981, p. 185] as a nine- roomed structure), and as in the churches in the Nile Valley it is provided with a return aisle. The sanctuary has the form of a triconch with gamma-shaped side rooms laid around the two lateral apses.
Whether there were two further columns or pillars in front of the opening of the triumphal arch, as is the case in the other examples of this type in the Nile Valley, was not investigated during the excavations in the church, but because of its small size, it seems that the answer must be negative. In any case, an additional triumphal arch set up with the aid of such columns would also have had to be provided with stout buttresses at the sides. Chronologically, the church is probably to be assigned to the late sixth century. An outer portico (not on the plan) was later added on the east side.
The remaining constructions in the neighborhood of the church have the character of monastic buildings. Several layers of settlement can be distinguished. The remains of a KEEP (jawsaq) can be seen immediately west of the church.
[See also: Architectural Elements of Churches.]
- Mills, A. J. “The Dakhlah Oasis Project.” Schriften der Studiengemeinschaft der evangelischen Akademien Journal 11 (1981):185.
- Winlock, H. E. El Dakhleh Oasis, p. 24, pl. 10. New York, 1936.