The first and only ancient author who pointed out this monastery was al-MAQRIZI (d. 1441), in his list of the monasteries (1853, Vol. 2, p. 504). He indicated that this monastery was perched on the mountain behind DAYR AL SAB‘AT JIBAL (Monastery of Seven Mountains) and that one could reach it only by paths hollowed into the rock. It is three hours’ walk between the site and Dayr al-Sab‘at Jibal at AKHMIM—that is, Dayr al-Madwid at the entrance of Bir al-‘Ayn, east of Akhmim. He noted that a well of fresh water was situated below the monastery, surrounded by “ban” trees (a kind of willow).
In 1820, Belzoni (1820, p. 32) heard tell of it. J. A. St. John (1834, p. 277) asked for information about this monastery, but could obtain no confirmation. The most precise information was given by M. JULLIEN. He reported information supplied to him by the inhabitants of Akhmim. Mounting the plateau, one finds a road that goes to the southeast. Following it for three hours’ walk, one comes to the remains of a monastery, Dayr Ascaros and Siclavios (Dioscorus and Aesculapius, two martyrs of Akhmim, whose memory is preserved at 1 Tubah in the Coptic recension of the SYNAXARION from Upper Egypt (Basset, PO 18, p. 510; Forget, CSCO 49, p. 362 [text]; 78, p. 295 [trans.]). The Synaxarion speaks of a pool to the east of the town; Jullien also spoke of a pool near the monastery (Martin, 1972, pp. 126-27).
Unfortunately, there is no description of this monastery or of what may survive of it.
- Belzoni, G. Narrative of the Operations . . . in Egypt and Nubia. London, 1820.
- St. John, J. A. Egypt and Mohamed Aly, or Travels in the Valley of the Nile. 2 vols. London, 1834.
- Martin, M. “Notes inédites du père Jullien sur trois monastères chrétiens d’Egypte: Deir Abu Fana; le couvent ‘des sept montagnes’; Deir anba Bisada.” Bulletin de l’Institut français d’Archéologie orientale 71 (1972):79-127.
MAURICE MARTIN, S.J.