Dayr Bi’l-Habash


(Monastery in the quarter of the Ethiopians). The first foundation of the Muslims on the site known as —that is, modern-day Old Cairo—included to the south a pool that was called the Pool of the Ethiopians (it is not known where the name comes from). This appellation is ancient, for it is given by al-Shabushti (1939, pp. 13 [text], 25 [trans.]), who died at the end of the tenth century or beginning of the eleventh. This pool (now dried up) gave the name “of the Ethiopians” to the surrounding neighborhood; consequently people came to speak of “the Monastery [in the quarter] of the Ethiopians.”

Several may have borne this title, because they were more or less adjacent to the pool. This was the case with the DAYR AL-NASTUR, the DAYR AL-TIN, and the Dayr of Saint Victor, although the latter place-name is mentioned as a dayr only in a single witness, a manuscript in Paris (National Library, Arabe 181; cf. Troupeau, 1972, Vol. 1, p. 156, [Ms 181] I). Everywhere else it is mentioned as being a church. It therefore remains doubtful that it was a genuine dayr.

  • Shabushti, al-. “Some Egyptian According to the Unpublished MS of al-Shabushti’s ‘Kitab al-Diyarat,’” trans. and ed. A. S. Atiya. Bulletin de la Société d’Archéologie copte 5 (1939):1-28.
  • Troupeau, G. Catalogue des manuscrits arabes, Vol. 1, Manuscrits chrétiens. Paris, 1972.