An old cultic center of the Theban local god Month, going back to the time of Userkaf (Fifth Dynasty). It is located on the east bank of the Nile, about 12 miles (19 km) south of Luxor. The temple ruins that have survived are, however, essentially no earlier than the Ptolemaic and Roman periods. The destruction of this temple began in the fifth century A.D. with the increasing spread of Christianity, and it was overlaid by three successive layers of settlement belonging to the fifth, eighth, and thirteenth centuries.
Over the Month temple of Sesostris I (Twelfth Dynasty), which was razed and its limestone material burned for lime, a basilica of simple mud bricks was erected in the eighth century (Bisson de la Roque, 1937, pp. 41-45).
Of the atrium, or western entrance court, only small parts of the outer side walls have survived. The three-aisled naos, on the other hand, can be readily surveyed. The remarkable inner buttresses on the west wall may have stood in some relation to the foundations of the western return aisle. The sanctuary has a richly developed spatial plan with two rooms on each of the two sides of the apse. On the right was, perhaps, the baptistery.
The curve of the apse is adorned with a continuous row of applied columns. In front of the apse is a forechoir, seldom seen in the Christian architecture of the Nile Valley. How long this church remained in existence is not known.
In the thirteenth century a new building was erected on the same spot, its quarry stone foundations still following roughly the course of the outer walls of the older church. Otherwise no further details have survived. On the strength of the fifth-century sculptured materials (capitals and decorated vaulting-stones) found in the filling under the church, the excavators have assumed a second church of the fifth century so far not located.
A third church was discovered in the winter of 1948/1949, but because of a mosque in the neighborhood and the objection of Muslims, it had to be filled in again only a few days after the beginning of the excavation. It contained very fine limestone fragments, friezes, capitals, and various kinds of woodwork. Of the architectural layout of the building, however, nothing is known.
- Bisson de la Roque, F. Tod (1934 à 1936). Fouilles de l’Institut français du Caire 17. Cairo, 1937.
- Vercoutter, J. “Tod (1946-1949).” Bulletin de l’institut français d’Archéologie orientale 50 (1959): 83-84.