Dayr Al-Malak Mikha’il (Akhmim)



This small monastery, of which nothing remains but the church surrounded by an enclosure, is near the village of al-Salamuni on the edge of the desert, 1.25 miles (2 km) north of al-Hawawish, on the right bank of the Nile, almost 4 miles (6 km) from Akhmim.

It seems to have been described by al-MAQRIZI (1853, Vol. 2, p. 504). He called it Dayr Sabra from the name of the Arab tribe that had established itself there. He also noted that it was dedicated to Saint Michael and that it had only a single monk.

depicted its modern state and gave information about reaching it (1965, pp. 295-96; 1977, pp. 406-407). A pilgrimage unites the Christians of the region each year on the great feasts of Saint Michael: 12 Hatur and 12 Ba’unah (cf. Muyser and Viaud, 1979, pp. 57-58).


  • Meinardus, O. Christian Egypt, Ancient and Modern. Cairo, 1965; 2nd ed., 1977.
  • Muyser, J., and G. Viaud. “Les Pèlerinages coptes Egypte.” Bibliothèque d’études coptes 15. Cairo, 1979.



The plans of the churches in this and nearby DAYR AL-‘ADHRA’ are similar. Both represent a local form of the medieval hall church with columns (Grossmann, 1982), having originally three sanctuaries and two corner rooms at the east and two rows of five bays divided by columns at the west. Later, another sanctuary and adjacent rooms were added on the north side. The original sanctuaries have the local peculiarity of being deep, with straight sides leading up to curved ends. Another local is the presence of a vaulted corridor behind the sanctuaries. This church is unique among those of the region in that, although built mainly of brick, it has stone voussoirs in the arches. These appear to be spoiled.

Several are carved, and one in the door from the northern addition bears a fragmentary Greek inscription. Rooms of a later date have been added along the north side. O. recorded a tradition that this monastery was built in the thirteenth century. The spoils suggest an earlier foundation in the area, although other signs point to DAYR AL-SHUHADA’ at Akhmim as the earliest of three neighboring structures. The church is at the east of a large with remains of other monastery buildings: rooms for animals and baking, a house for water, and so on. A separate structure nearby is said to have been built for guests.


  • Grossmann, P. Mittelalterliche Langhauskuppelkirchen und verwandte Typen in Oberägypten. Glückstadt, 1982.
  • Meinardus, O. Christian Egypt, Ancient and Modern. Cairo, 1965; 2nd ed., 1977.