This is the name now given to a cluster of ruins situated at the edge of the western desert at ASYUT, about a mile from the town, beside the ancient necropolis at the mausoleum of Shaykh Abu Tuq.
ABU SALIH THE ARMENIAN, at the beginning of thirteenth century, knew four monasteries to the west of Asyut: the one called Karfunah, dedicated to the Holy Virgin; that of Saint Severus; and two monasteries of the Holy Virgin, called Dayr Azilun and Abu al- Harith. Unfortunately, it is difficult to determine to what the monasteries he lists actually correspond, except for that of Saint Severus.
Al-MAQRIZI (d. 1441) in his al-Kitab al-Khitat (1853) indicated some monasteries on the west bank of the Nile; these are the Monastery of Seven Mountains or of John Colobos (today called DAYR AL-‘IZAM); and DAYR AL MUTTIN, or rather, according to the spelling proposed by S. Timm (1984, Vol. 2, p. 758), Dayr al- Mazall, a difference that in Arabic requires only the change of a diacritical point.
Al-Maqrizi added that the monasteries of this region were numerous, but that many were at that time destroyed. He later named those of the region of Durunkah, to the south of Asyut. It seems that the ruins today called Dayr al-Muttin correspond to what al-Maqrizi called Dayr al-Mazall.
Down to the beginning of the twentieth century, one could find there the remains of buildings of unbaked brick described by Napoleon’s engineers and by V. de Bock. They also found in the pharaonic tombs some “chapels” (tombs fitted out as cells), below and to the east of the tomb of Shaykh Abu Tuq. The inscriptions have been published by G. Lefèbvre (1910, Vol. 2, pp. 50-58) and J. Clédat (1908, pp. 216-22). One may also consult A. Kamal (1916, pp. 97-99). Unfortunately they disappeared when archaeologists wished to restore the pharaonic tombs (Chassinat and Palanque,1911).
On the present state, one may consult O. Meinardus (1965, pp.282-83; 1977, pp. 391-92).
Some ancient tombs of the necropolis preserve without doubt traces of a very ancient monastic occupation, naming the three founders of BAWIT: Apollo, Anub, and Phib (Palanque, 1903, pp.126-28).
- Bock, V. de. Matériaux pour servir à l’archéologie chrétienne d’Egypte. St. Petersburg, 1901 (in Russian and French).
- Chassinat, E., and C. Palanque. Une Campagne des fouilles dans la nécropole d’Assiut. Mémoires de l’Institut français d’Archéologie orientale 24. Cairo, 1911.
- Clédat, J. “Notes d’archéologie copte.” Annales du Service des antiquités de l’Egypte 9 (1908):213-30.
- Jollois, J. B. P., and E. Devilliers, in Description de l’Egypte, Vol. 4. Paris, 1821-1829.
- Kamal, A. “Fouilles à Deir Drunka et a Assiut.” Annales du Service des antiquités de l’Egypte 16 (1916):65-114.
- Lefèbvre, G. “Egypte chrétienne.” Annales du Service des antiquités de l’Egypte 10 (1910):50-58.
- Meinardus, O. Christian Egypt, Ancient and Modern. Cairo, 1965; 2nd ed., 1977.
- Palanque, E. “Notes de fouilles dans la nécropole d’Assiut.” Bulletin de l’Institut français d’Archéologie orientale 3 (1903):119-28.
- Timm, S. Das christlich-koptische Ägypten in arabischer Zeit, 2 vols. Wiesbaden, 1984.
MAURICE MARTIN, S.J.