Dayr Al-Matmar



About 6 miles (9 km) west of Armant, on the stony desert (hajir in Arabic) but at the edge of the cultivated land, is situated a kom (mound) covered with the debris of pottery, fragments of brick, and the like and thus given this name Dayr al-Matmar (the Buried Monastery). It is also called Dayr al-Abyad (the White Monastery) and DAYR ANBA SHINUDAH, although the reason for this appellation is not known. There is no possibility of attaching this site to any name attested in the literary sources, but one may suppose that its foundation goes back to the period. It is described by J. Doresse (1949, esp. p. 346) and by O. Meinardus (1977, p. 435). The exact geographical situation is found in the plan given by and O. H. Myers (1937, Vol. 1, no. 2).


  • Doresse, J. “Monastères aux environs d’Armant en Thébaïde.” Analecta Bollandiana 67 (1949):327-49.
  • Meinardus, O. Christian Egypt, Ancient and Modern, 2nd ed. Cairo, 1977.
  • Mond, R., and O. H. Myers. Cemeteries of Armant, 2 vols. Egypt
  • Exploration Society Memoirs 42. London, 1937.




Dayr al-Matmar is a hilly field of debris covering several hectares to the west of Armant. The only ruin that still projects to some extent above the general rubble is the church, built of mud bricks. However, most of this, too, is covered up. What can still be recognized is the course of the outer walls, as well as part of the internal arrangement of the sanctuary. In the latter, one can see in shadowy form the spatial plan of a triconch. On the two sides of the are two large side chambers, the northern one of which evidently held the staircase. The naos seems to have been a three- aisled one. How and where the rows of columns ran cannot, however, be determined. In the same way, there are no indications of the front triumphal arch, which appears in all other triconch churches. Of the later interior structures, the wall sections in the southeast corner of the naos could belong to a khurus (room between naos and sanctuary), which was in use in monastery churches from the early eighth century. The church of Dayr al-Matmar is probably to be assigned to the sixth century.


  • Doresse, J. “Monastères aux environs d’Armant en Thébaïde.” Analecta Bollandiana 67 (1949):346.
  • Grossmann, P. “Neue frühehristliche Funde aus Ägypten.” Actes du XIe congrès international d’archéologie chrétienne, Lyon, 21-28 septembre 1986, vol. 2, p. 1892, fig. 22. Paris, 1989.
  • Timm, S. Das christlich- Ägypten in arabischer Zeit, Vol. 2, p. 740. Wiesbaden, 1984.