A village close to Sanabu in the Libyan mountains and site of the necropolis of the ancient capital of the nome, Kousit (today the village of al-Qusiyyah). The tombs of the Sixth Dynasty were fitted up to serve as dwellings by Christian hermits, and in particular those of Senbi and Oukhotep preserve traces of monastic occupation.
On the outside in the façade with portico and columns, the hermits raised a wall of unbaked bricks in such a way as to form chambers. On the inside, the columns were cut away to enlarge the free space. Niches and apses were hollowed into the walls, the sculptures were mutilated, and the paintings were covered with plaster. The Greek and Coptic inscriptions have been published, the former by G. Lefebvre (1911, p. 248), the latter by J. Clédat (1901, pp. 87ff.).
The plans of these tombs are found in Blackman (1915) and in Badawy (1953, pp. 67-89). An up-to-date description of these hypogea is given by Meinardus (1st ed., 1965, p. 271; 2d ed., 1977, p. 377).
- Badawy, A. Les Premiers établissements chrétiens dans les anciennes tombes d’Egypte. Tome commémoratif du millénaire de la Bibliothèque patriarchale d’Alexandrie), pp. 69-89. Alexandria, 1953.
- Blackman, A. M. The Rock Tombs of Meir. London, 1915.
- Clédat, J. “Notes archéologiques et philologiques.” Bulletin de l’Institut français d’archéologie orientale 1 (1901):87-97; 2 (1902):41-70.
- Lefebvre, G. “Egypte chrétienne 4.” Annales du Service des Antiquités de l’Egypte 11 (1911):238-50.
- Meinardus, O. Christian Egypt, Ancient and Modern. Cairo, 1965; 2nd ed., Cairo, 1977.
MAURICE MARTIN, S.J.