DAYR AL-BALLAS (Qift)
This monastery-village is situated on the left bank of the Nile to the north of the town of al-Ballas, which has given its name to the large jars in which water is carried. There is neither archaeological nor ancient literary evidence, only the name of the hamlet, al-Dayr, to show that a monastery existed there, and the church that survives indicates that it was dedicated to Saint George (Mar Jirjis).
“The State of the Provinces” (al-Latif, 1810, p. 703), drawn up in A.H. 777/A.D. 1375-1376, mentions it under the title of Dayr al- Kahmas. A fifteenth-century manuscript published under the title Book of the Hidden Pearls (Daressy, 1917, p. 200) also mentions it.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, the ruins of a monastery could still be seen (Weigall, 1913, p. 83). It is mentioned in reference to the Church of Saint George by S. Clarke (1912, p. 216, no. 2; it is attached to the bishopric of Isna).
‘Abd al-Masih (1924, p. 181) cited it as a monastery dedicated to Mar Jirjis. Quibell noted remains of hermitages to the west of the present hamlet of al-Dayr (1896, p. 1).
- ‘Abd al-Latif. Relation de l’Egypte de ‘Abd al- Latif, trans. and ed. 1810. I. S. de Sacy. Paris, 1810. “L’Etat des provinces” is translated in an appendix.
- ‘Abd al-Masih Salib al-Masu‘di al-Baramusi. Kitab Tuhfat al Sai’lin fi Dhikr Adyirat Ruhban al-Misriyyn. Cairo, 1924.
- Daressy, G. “Indicateur topographique du “Livre des perles enfouies et du mystère précieux.'” Bulletin de l’Institut français d’Archéologie orientale 13 (1917):175-230.
- Quibell, J. E. Ballas. London, 1896.
- Weigall, A. E. P. A Guide to the Antiquities of Upper Egypt from Abydos to the Sudan Frontier. London, 1913.
MAURICE MARTIN, S.J.