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Place names
GreekΜουνησις | Μωνησις | Πμουν Ἠσε
Copticpmou nhse
EnglishShams al-Din
FrenchChams el-Din | Chams ed-Din | Aïn Chams el Din
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Site information
Trismegistos GeoID3155
Pleiades ID776216
Ancient nameMounēsis
Modern nameŠams al-Dīn
Date from-
Date to-
Dating criteria-

The Romano-Byzantine site of Šams al-Dīn, ancient Mōnēsis, is located 18 kilometers N-W of Dūš, on the ancient caravan route connecting Lycopolis and Hibis. Limited archaeological excavation has been conducted here, with only the church, located in the S-W corner of the perimeter of the ancient residential area, having been investigated (Ghica 2012: 216). Excavations were carried out in 1975, led by Guy Wagner and Jean Gascou, in association with the Institut Français d’Archéologie Orientale. The church, which is of simple basilica type, is believed to have been erected in the mid to latter half of the fourth century CE (Wagner 1987: 358-359; Timm 1984-1992: 2264). It is without an apse, and has a rectangular sanctuary, with two rows of columns delimiting three naves. A seventh column is located in the center of the wall opposite the sanctuary and completes the support of the roof (Sauneron 1976: 411). Much of the significance of the site derives from the numerous Greek graffiti and dipinti inscribed on the walls of the choir, of the vestibule, of the corridor leading to the church and of the room receiving travellers (kathesterion), totaling to around seventy (Wagner 1987: 27-43). These inscriptions are not only incredibly informative regarding faith and worship at the time, including reference to a high number of Christian soldiers stationed at Mōnēsis, but are an indispensable means of dating the structure. As well as the graffiti, a number of objects of worship were also uncovered, including five Greek ostraka (4th century) and a plaque in wood (3rd century) (Wagner 1987: 182). 

Archaeological research

Excavations were carried out in 1975, led by Guy Wagner and Jean Gascou, in association with the Institut français d’archéologie orientale. In February 2020, a team led by Basem Gehad carried out DGPS, TLS and photogrammetric surveys of the site.


Ghica, V. 2012. “Pour une histoire du Christianisme dans le désert occidental d’Égypte.” Journal des savants 2: 189-280.
Ghica, V. 2016. Vecteurs de la christianisation de l’Égypte au IVe siècle à la lumière des sources archéologiques.” In Acta XVI Congressus Internationalis Archaeologiae Christianae, Rome 22-28.9.2013. edited by Olof Brandt, Gabriele Castiglia, 241-242, 248-249 and fig. 9i. Città del Vaticano: Pontificio Istituto di Archeologia Cristiana.
Grossmann, P. 1989. “Neue fru?hchristliche Funde aus Ägypten.” In Actes du XIe congrès international d’archéologie chrétienne. Lyon, Vienne, Grenoble, Genève, Aoste, 21-28 septembre 1986. 1899-1900. Rome: École française de Rome.
Sauneron, S. 1976. “Travaux de l’IFAO, en 1975-1976.” Bulletin de l’Institut français d’archéologie orientale 76, 410-411.
Timm, S. ed. 1984-1992. Das christlich-koptische Ägypten in arabischer Zeit: Eine Sammlung christicher Stätten in Ägypten in arabischer Zeit unter Ausschluß von Alexandria, Kairo, des Apa-Mena-Klosters (D?r Ab? Mina), der Sk?tis (W?di n-Na?r?n) und der Sinai-Region. Vol. V (Q-S), Beihefte zum Tübinger Atlas des Vorderen Orients B 41/5. Wiesbaden:: Dr Ludwig Reichert. 2264-2269.
Wagner, G. 1987. Les oasis d’Égypte à l’époque grecque, romaine et byzantine d’après les documents grecs: recherches de papyrologie et d’épigraphie grecques. Cairo: Institut français d’archéologie orientale.

Rhiannon Williams, Victor Ghica, 2020
Suggested citation
Rhiannon Williams, Victor Ghica, 2020, "Šams al-Dīn", 4CARE database - Fourth-Century Christian Archaeological Record of Egypt,
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© B. Gehad, 2020
© B. Gehad, M. Gamal, A. Hammad, A. Fathy, 2020
© B. Gehad, M. Gamal, A. Hammad, A. Fathy, 2020
© B. Gehad, 2020
© B. Gehad, 2020
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