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Place names
EgyptianPȝ-dmỉ-n-mȝy | Pȝ-dmỉ-mȝy
Greek Διονυσιάς
Latin Dionisias
Arabicقصر قارون
EnglishDionysias | Qasr Qarûn | Kesr Keroun
FrenchQasr Qaroun
Site map
Site information
DEChriM ID50
Trismegistos GeoID565
Pleiades ID736904
PAThs ID119
Ancient nameDionysias
Modern nameQaṣr Qārūn
Date from229-228
Date to600
Dating criteria

Papyrological documentation 


The site of Dionysias is situated in the western end of the Fayyūm, 3.5km from the salt-lake of Birkat Qārūn, the modern remnants of the ancient Moeris Lake. The site is also known as Qaṣr Qārūn, which is the name of a modern village located nearby. The town was founded in the Ptolemaic period and is understood to have been occupied up until the sixth century.

Only a limited number of buildings are preserved to a height greater than a meter and a half, greatly limiting understandings of the urban planning of the site (Davoli 1998: 301). As of 2009, the Dionysias Archaeological Project, directed by Emanuele Papi, has helped to resolve this, with remote sensing technology assisting in mapping the settlement. The features recognisable on the ground include a stone kiosk, a brick building thought to have been a Roman mausoleum and a thermal-like structure (Schwartz, 1950: 6). The most renowned features of the settlement, however, are a Ptolemaic temple dedicated to the crocodile god Sobek and a Roman fort built under the Tetrarchy which housed, according to the Notitia Dignitatum, the ala quinta praelectorum (Schwartz et al. 1969: 85, fig. 1; O’Connell, 2018: 488; P. Flor. I, 30, 5-6).

Archaeological research

Unlike other sites in the Fayyūm, Dionysias received relatively limited attention by early explorers and archaeologists. A number of travelers visited the site between the 18th and 19th centuries, specifically the temple, including N. Granger, P. Lucas, R. Pococke, G. B. Belzoni, G. Schweinfurth and K. R. Lepsius (see Cestari, 2010: 19-32 for a more detailed history). The first ‘scientific’ exploration was by members of Napoleon’s scientific team, particularly Jomard, who provided a description and drawings of the temple (Jomard, 1821: 437-527). Grenfell and Hunt visited the site briefly in 1898-1899, where they searched in vain for papyri. It is not known specifically where they searched (Grenfell, Hunt and Hogarth, 1900: 63).

The only actual archaeological excavations to have taken place so far were those of a joint Franco-Swiss mission (University of Geneva and the Institut français d’archéologie orientale) in 1948 and 1950, led by J. Schwartz and H. Wild. As can be expected, the excavators did not prioritise stratigraphy. Restoration work of the Roman temple was carried out by Ibrahīm ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz and Ṭaha al-Šiltawī on behalf of the Service of Antiquities in 1957 (Davoli, 1998: 309; Leclant, 1961: 176). The Supreme Council of Antiquities is understood to have conducted some excavations, but nothing is known, let alone published.

In 2009, the University of Siena initiated work for the Dionysias Archaeological Project, directed by Emanuele Papi. The project, which had campaigns in 2009, 2010 and 2012, utilised various non-invasive methods, including remote sensing technologies, topographical, magnetic and geophysical surveys, so as to develop a more comprehensive understanding of the developmental progression of the urban plan of the site, particularly in light of Greco-Roman influence. This project enabled a detailed reconstruction of the settlement, with some 16 hectares prospected.

In an area between the fortress and the temple, at the northern limit of the settlement, hundreds of terracotta moulds were found totaling to some 15000, used for the casting of coins (Schwartz, 1950: 39-48). These moulds have recently become the focus of an IFAO project led by P. -M. Guihard, J. Chameroy and G. Blanchet.


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• Grossmann, P. 1995. “Ein spätantikes Mausoleum in Qaṣr Qarūn-Dionysias.” Bulletin de la Société d’archéologie copte 34: 139-148.
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• Guihard, P.-M., J. Chameroy and G. Blanchet. 2019a. “Les moules monétaires de Qasr Qarun/Dionysias: contrefaire la monnaie dans la vallée du Nil au début du IVe siècle.” Supplément au Bulletin de l’Institut français d’archéologie orientale 119: 58-62.
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Rhiannon Williams, Victor Ghica , 2020
Suggested citation
Rhiannon Williams, Victor Ghica , 2020, "Qaṣr Qārūn", 4CARE database - Fourth-Century Christian Archaeological Record of Egypt,
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