Theban Hermitages


Many Christian sites on the left bank of the Nile opposite Luxor cannot be definitely labeled genuine monasteries, although the local inhabitants use the name dayr (monastery). What we know of these hermitages follows.

In the Valley of the Kings, several celebrated tombs preserve vestiges of their occupation by hermits. We may cite the tombs of IV, that destined for Ramses III, and also that of Ramses VI. They are summarily described by O. Meinardus (1st ed., 1965, p. 315; 2nd ed., 1977, p. 429).

Several tombs situated at SHAYKH ‘ABD AL-QURNAH still preserve traces of Christian occupation. The tombs were fitted up, and several Greek or Coptic inscriptions bearing witness to their last occupants are noted by A. Badawy (1953, pp. 69-89) and U. Monneret de Villard (Baedeker, 1929, 1974, p. 187).

The hermitages to the north of MADINAT and as far as beyond the Valley of the Kings, which are of the seventh or eighth century, are described by H. E. Winlock and W. E. Crum (1926, Vol. 1, pp. 16-24), J. E. Quibell (1906, pp. 8-10), and R. Mond and W. B. Emery (1929, pp. 49-74).

To the west of the DAYR AL-SHALWIT (in the hill called al- Kulah al-Hamra) a hermitage has been excavated (Doresse, 1949, pp. 327-49, esp. p. 343).


  • Badawy, A. “Les premiers établissements chrétiens les anciennes tombes d’Egypte.” In Tome commémoratif du millénaire de la bibliothèque patriarcale d’Alexandrie, pp. 69-89. Alexandria, 1953.
  • Baedeker, K. Baedeker’s Egypt, 1929. Repr. Newton Abbot, 1974. Doresse, J. “Monastères coptes aux environs d’ en Thébaide.” Analecta Bollandiana 67 (1949):327-49.
  • Meinardus, O. Christian Egypt: Ancient and Modern, 1st ed. Cairo, 1965; 2nd. ed., 1977.
  • Mond, R., and W. B. Emery. “The Burial Shaft of the Tomb of Amenemhat.” Annals of Archaeology and Anthropology 16 (1929):49-74.
  • Quibell, J. E. “Report on Work Done in During the Winter of 1904-5.” Annales du Service des Antiquités de l’Egypte 7 (1906):8-10.
  • Winlock, H. E., and W. E. Crum. The Monastery of Epiphanius at Thebes, 2 vols. New York, 1926.