On a rocky spur at the mouth of the Valley of the Queens, less than a mile west of the ancient town of Jeme (present-day MADINAT HABU), a tomb cut into the rock forms the kernel of this so-called dayr. It is the inhabitants of the region who gave it the name Dayr al-Rumi (the Monastery of the Greeks). One can only regret that excavations have not taken place at the site, for they would without doubt have revealed its true name. It seems that this was not a true cenobium but rather a center fitted up near the place of residence of a celebrated hermit with a church to serve as a meeting place for hermits who lived in the vicinity.
The oldest mention appears to be that of Bononi (Newberry, 1906, p. 82, no. 45). It was also noted by E. Schiaparelli, an Italian archaeologist who worked at DAYR AL-MADINAH (1924, Vol. 1, p. 126, n. 1). Grossmann (1974, pp. 25-30) gave a brief description. One may, like H. E. Winlock and W. E. Crum (1926, Vol. 1, pp. 7-8), date this site to the second half of the sixth century or the beginning of the seventh, for the buildings are similar to those of DAYR EPIPHANIUS or the dayr in QURNAT MAR‘I and the surface pottery is identical. According to Baraize, use was made of blocks that came from DAYR AL-BAHRI and Dayr al-Madinah (cf. Winlock and Crum, 1926, Vol. 1, p. 8, n. 1). The site was briefly noted by O. Meinardus (1965, p. 313; 1977, p. 427).
- Grossmann, P. “Untersuchungen im Dair ar-Rumi bei Qurna in Oberägypten.” Mitteilungen des deutschen archäologischen Instituts Abteilung Kairo 30 (1974):25-30.
- Meinardus, O. Christian Egypt, Ancient and Modern. Cairo, 1965; 2nd ed., 1977.
- Newberry, P. E. “Topographical Notes on Western Thebes Collected in 1838 by Bononi.” Annales du Service des antiquités de l’Egypte 7 (1906):78-86.
- Schiaparelli, E. Relazioni sui lavori della Missione archeologica italiana in Egitto, Vol. 1. Turin, 1924.
- Winlock, H. E., and W. E. Crum. The Monastery of Ephiphanius at Thebes, 2 vols. New York, 1926.
MAURICE MARTIN, S.J.
Like many other dayrs, Dayr al-Rumi relates clearly to an older rock tomb. This rock tomb also had a projecting structure built as an open-domed tetrapylon, which was later transformed into a church by the monks who settled there. In the process, a small apse flanked by columns was built into the eastern opening in the wall. The residential quarters of the monks, which are in part several stories high, attach directly to the church on the south and fill a small hollow bounded on the south by a huge rock fragment.
Inside is a wide corridor running east and west, from which the sleeping chambers of the monks branch off on the south. It also contains on the north a covered entrance corridor, the actual access to the church, as well as a small refectory. The ancillary buildings lie southeast of the church. The date of the monastery’s founding is not clear, but it can scarcely predate the seventh century. Evidently the monastic community that lived here was very small.
- Grossmann, P. “Untersuchungen in Dair ar-Rumi bei Qurna in Oberägypten.” Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts, Abteilung Kairo 30(1974):25-30.
- Winlock, H. E., and W. E. Crum. The Monastery of Epiphanius at Thebes, Vol. 1, pp. 7ff. New York, 1926.