Dayr Apa Hor (Sawadah)

DAYR APA HOR (Sawadah)

At the foot of the great necropolis of on the of the Nile, about 2.5 miles (4 km) southeast of the town and just over half a mile (1 km) east of the village of Sawadah, are the remains of a monastery with a rock- cut church fitted up inside a tomb. The site is described by E. F. Jomard (1821, Vol. 4, pp. 365-67). At this period the church had a in front, open to the sky; since then a cupola has been added.

Al-MAQRIZI (1853, p. 504; ed. Wüstenfeld, 1845, p. 39 [text], p. 97 [translation]) explains that the name Sawadah comes from the name of an Arab tribe settled in the neighborhood, and that the Arabs destroyed the monastery. ‘Ali Mubarak (1886/87-1888/89, Vol. 12, p. 63) also mentions the monastery.

It is difficult to establish to which of the many saints who bore the name of this monastery was dedicated. W. E. Crum drew up a list of the saints of this name (1913, p. 164, n. 1). It was completed by J. Muyser (1943, pp. 186-190). Among the eight anchorites of this name whom he counts, Muyser proposes to identify Apa Hor of Preht (Abrahat), the biographer of Apa Harmin, with the namesake of the monastery of Sawadah, for he is often called “Apa Hor the monk,” as in al-Maqrizi’s notice.

Also, he was a native of Preht situated near Antinoë (Muyser, 1943, pp. 191-92, 209, n.5). Muhammad Ramzi (1963, p. 66) identifies Preht/ with DAYR AL-BARSHAH, to the south of DAYR ABU HINNIS. However, some Coptic fragments indicate that this Apa lived “in the mountain of Pisoben,” which H. G. Evelyn-White identifies with Psoun (Basunah), to the north of Akhmim (1926, p. 170).

About 1.25 miles (2 km) farther south, above the village of Zawiyat al-Amwat (or al-Mayyitin) in the quarries northwest of the village, there is the of a church cut in the cliff. A small monastic funerary stela was found in the nearby cemetery. H. Munier, who published it (1917, p. 163) proposes to locate Hage at that place. J. F. had suggested putting it near Apollinopolis Parva (Kom Isfaht, see Amélineau, 1893, p. 191). A miracle story about Saint Colluthus indicates that the village of Hage was in the nome of Shmun. W. E. Crum’s note (1922, p. 180, n.1) makes Munier’s hypothesis plausible (see also M. Drew-Bear, 1979, pp. 55-56).


  • ‘Ali Mubarak. Al- al-Tawfiqiyyah al-Jadidah. Cairo, 1886-1889.
  • Amélineau, E. La Géographie de l’Egypte a l’époque copte. Paris, 1893.
  • Crum, W. E. Theological Texts from Coptic Papyri. Oxford, 1913. Crum, W. E., and H. I. Bell. Wadi Sarjah. Coptica 3. Copenhagen, 1922.
  • Drew-Bear, M. “Le nome hermopolite: Toponymes et sites.” American Studies in Papyrology 21 (1979).
  • Evelyn-White, H. G. New Coptic Texts from the Monastery of St. Macarius. New York, 1926.
  • Jomard, E. F., ed. “Hypogée d’architecture dorique et carrières anciennes à Saouadeh.” In de l’Egypte, Vol. 4: Antiquités, chaps. 16 and 13, pp. 361-67. Paris, 1821.
  • Munier, H. “Note sur le village de Hagé.” Annales du service des antiquités de l’Egypte 17 (1917):163.
  • Muyser, J. “Ermite pérégrinant et pèlerin infatigable (Fragment arabe de la vie inédite d’Anba Harmin racontée par son compagnon de voyage, Apa de Preht).” Bulletin de la société d’archéologie copte 9 (1943):159-236.
  • Ramzi, M. Al Qamus al Jughrafi lil al- al-Misriyyah, Vol. 2, pt. 4. Cairo, 1963.