Mountainous site about 20 miles to the west of the Wadi al-Natrun, that is to say, from the salty lake farthest to the west, excavated in 1932 by OMAR TOUSSOUN, who interpreted it as being the KELLIA (Omar Toussoun, 1933, pp. 106-7; and above all his publication Cellia et ses couvents, 1935).

But H. EVELYN-WHITE’s study The Monasteries of the Wadi ‘n Natrun (above all Vol. 2, the history of the monasteries) was to show that this identification was incorrect. Evelyn-White’s demonstration was adopted by all. But what could the hermitages discovered by Omar Toussoun be?

It has been proposed to see here the site called “Petra” in several apothegms, which would correspond well enough with the site, for the apothegms speak of a pit of Petra (Regnault, 1981, Sisoes, no. 33, p. 292). This interpretation appears to be followed by L. Regnault in the map that he gives of the monastic sites (1976, p. 318).

A. de Cosson (1935) also proposed to see in it Petra or the Bijij, of which different texts speak with regard to SCETIS (1935, pp. 144-45).

One might also identify this place with the Pherme mentioned by PALLADIUS (, chap. 20). Mention of this site will also be found in the Greek historian SOZOMEN (Historia ecclesiastica, 6.29) and also the later historian Nicephorus Callistus (Historia ecclesiastica 2.36). One will see this identification with Pherme proposed in D. G. Chitty (1966, p. 68).

The site could also be the Calamus of which John speaks, as F. DAUMAS has suggested (1968, pp. 407-408).


  • Chitty, D. J. The Desert a City. London, 1966. Cosson, A. de. Maréotis. London, 1935.
  • Daumas, F. “Fouilles et travaux de l’IFAO durant l’année 1967-1968.” Comptes rendus des séances de l’Académie des inscriptions et belles lettres (1968):397-408.
  • Evelyn-White, H. The Monasteries of the Wadi ‘n-Natrun, Vol. 2. New York, 1932.
  • Omar Toussoun. “Une expédition de reconnaissance dans le désert libyque.” Chronique d’Egypte 15 (1933):106-107.
  • . Cellia et ses couvents. Mémoires de la Société d’Archéologie d’Alexandrie 7/1. Alexandria, 1935.
  • Regnault, L. Les Sentences des pères du désert. Troisième recueil. Solesmes, 1976.
  • . Les Sentences des pères du désert. Nouveau recueil. Solesmes, 1977.
  • . Les Sentences des pères du désert. Collection alphabétique. Solesmes, 1981.