On the right bank of the Nile, about 2 miles (3 km) north of the town of Isna, is situated the village of al-Dayr (the Monastery), the name of which suggests a monastic origin. Near this village are the ruins that the inhabitants call DAYR AL-RUMANIYYAH (the Greek Monastery).
This is without doubt the one that F. L. Norden (1795-98, Vol. 2, p. 138) called Deir Omali. In fact, Ramzi (1953-1968, Vol. 2, pt. 4, p. 154) wrote that the ancient name was Jazirat al-Dayr (Island of the Monastery) or Dayr al-Jazirah (Monastery of the Island), which seems to indicate that the monastery was at first on an island. The State of the Provinces (al-Latif, 1810), dating from A.H. 777/A.D. 1375-1376, calls it Jazirat al-Dayr wa Umm ‘Ali (Island of the Monastery and of Umm ‘Ali), which explains the name transcribed by Norden.
These ruins were excavated by A. H. Sayce (1905, p. 159). Meinardus (1965, p. 324; 1977, p. 439) mentioned them, although he was mistaken in his reference, sending the reader to Palanque’s article, but the latter concerns a village of the same name situated near the ancient Monastery of Nahya, not that placed to the north of Isna.
- ‘Abd al-Latif. Relation de l’Egypte de ‘Abd al-Latif, trans. and ed. Antoine Isaac Silvestre de Sacy. Paris, 1810. L’Etat des provinces is translated in an appendix.
- Meinardus, O. Christian Egypt, Ancient and Modern. Cairo, 1965; 2nd ed., 1977.
- Norden, F. L. Voyage d’Egypte et de Nubie, ed. L. Langles. Paris, 1795-1798.
- Ramzi, M. Al-Qamus al-Jughrafi lil-Bilad al-Misriyyah, 3 vols. Cairo, 1953-1968.
- Sayce, A. H. “Excavations at el-Deir.” Annales du Service des antiquités de l’Egypte 6 (1905):159-167.
MAURICE MARTIN, S.J.