A porch is a covered entrance to a temple, church, or other building. Greek and Roman buildings had a pronaos (porch) in the form of a portico (with columns and a pediment). The narthex of some early Christian churches was a portico. A porch consisting of a bay and, generally, a large entrance opening appeared for the first time in Egyptian monastic churches in the Fatimid period (Horner, 1902, fol. 390; Evelyn-White, 1926-1933).
The Greek word for this style of porch, doxarion (meaning “glory and honor”) and the Arabic word for it, duksar, suggests that it was a sort of triumphal arch. It corresponded functionally to a narthex and indeed was described by Matta al-Miskin in his book on monasteries as mamarr al-madkhal (“vestibule”). In its single bay it may be compared to a propylaeum, an important temple or other entrance, especially between two pylons (truncated pyramidal towers) (Vitruvius 6.7.5), or a prothyron (a two-columned porch, see below).
The duksar is where modern churchgoers remove their shoes. The oldest examples of the duksar are in front of the two original east entrances of the church of Dayr Anba Hadra. Similar examples in front of the churches of Dayr al-Suryan and Dayr Anba Bishoi date from the Mamluk period. The porch in the al-‘Adhra church of Dayr al-Suryan originally had the shape of a tetrapylon (a porch with four pylons); the lateral arched openings were later blocked off.
- Burmester, O. H. E. The Egyptian or Coptic Church, p. 21. Cairo, 1967.
- Evelyn-White, H. G. The Monasteries of the Wadi ‘n Natrun, Vol. 3,
- The Architecture and Archaeology. New York, 1926-1933.
- Horner, G. The Service for the Consecration of a Church and Altar. London, 1902.
- Matta al-Miskin. Al-Rahbanah al-Qibtiyah, Cairo, 1972.