Mountain of the chain, so-called because the Nile at this place presents a narrow defile and was formally closed, it is said, by a chain, site of the ruins of a Coptic monastery. A Roman and Christian cemetery is situated between the ruins of the Coptic monastery and the village of Faris. Greek Christian graffiti in the tombs and quarries of the Jabal al-Silsilah perhaps betray the presence of hermits who found refuge there.
These remains of Christian occupation were pointed out as early as Bonaparte’s campaign by M. M. Chabrol and E. F. Jomard. Two archaeologists have explored the site: F. L. Griffith (1889, pp. 93-95) and A. H. Sayce (1907, p. 99). G. Lefebvre has published a Greek inscription from a tomb (1907, p. 102, no. 560). O. Meinardus mentions these ruins and the Christian traces (1965, p. 327; 2nd ed., 1977, p. 442).
Unfortunately, we do not know the primitive name of this monastery, of which no ancient literary text speaks.
- Chabrol, M. M., and E. F. Jomard. “Description d’Ombos et de ses environs.” In La Description de l’Egypte, 1, pp. 260ff. Paris, 1821.
- Griffith, F. L. “Notes on a Tour in Upper Egypt.” Proceedings of the Society of Biblical Archaeology 12 (1889):93-95.
- Lefèbvre, G. Recueil des inscriptions grecques-chrétiennes d’Egypte. Cairo, 1907.
- Meinardus, O. Christian Egypt: Ancient and Modern. Cairo, 1965; 2nd ed., 1977.
- Sayce, A. H. “Excavations at Gebel Silsila.” Annales du Service des Antiquités de l’Egypte 8 (1907):97-105.
MAURICE MARTIN, S.J.