This monastery is one of a group of four briefly described by al-MAQRIZI (A.D. 1442), in the neighborhood of Bilqas, to the northeast of the province of Gharbiyyah. He placed it at one day’s march from the Dayr al-Mightas and near the salt marsh from which the so-called Rashid (Rosetta) salt comes. He added that it was dedicated to the apostles and that no more than one monk lived there (1845, pp. 45 [text], 109 [trans.]; 1853, Vol. 2, p. 508).
Ramzi (1953-1963, Vol. 1, p. 84) notes that al-‘Askar was a village placed by Yaqut (A.D. 1229) in his Kitab Mu‘jam al-Buldan near Damirah. In the later documents and up to 1809, this locality was associated with al-Maymah (see DAYR AL-MAYMAH) in the district of Danjaway, and their linking might have been the origin of the town of Bilqas in the markaz (district) of Talkha.
The name ‘Askar was doubtless given to this place by reason of the presence of a military camp (Maspero and Wiet, 1919, p. 127), and the monastery mentioned by al-Maqrizi no doubt took the name of the neighboring small town. It is not to be concluded from this notation by al- Maqrizi that this monastery was still in existence in the fifteenth century, for this author compiled many chronicles and other, earlier works.
- Maspero, J., and G. Wiet. Matériaux pour servir à la géographie de l’Egypte. Mémoires de l’Institut français d’Archéologie orientale 36. Cairo, 1919.
- Ramzi, M. Al-Qamusi al-Jughrafi lil-Bilad al Misriyyah, 3 vols. Cairo, 1953-1968.
- Yaqut ibn ‘Abd Allah al-Hamawi. Kitab Mu‘jam al-Buldan, 10 vols. Cairo, 1956-1957.
- . Jacut’s Geographisches Wörterbuch. 6 vols., ed F. Wüstenfeld. Leipzig, 1866-1873. Repr. Tehran, 1965; Beirut, 4 vols., 1955-1957.
MAURICE MARTIN, S.J.