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Place names
Arabicعين جلّال
EnglishAyn Gallal
Site map
Site information
Trismegistos GeoID61706
Pleiades ID-
Ancient name-
Modern nameʿAyn Ǧallāl
Date from-
Date to-
TypologyMonastic settlement
Dating criteria

Analysis (in 2012, by Zulema Barahona Mendieta) of the ceramic fragments found in the excavation refuse.


ʿAyn Ǧallāl is a site in Kharga Oasis, situated 1.6km south of Dayr al-Baǧawāt and 600 m west of the northernmost documented remains of the ancient town of Hibis on the site of ʿAyn al-Ṭurba. It consists of two sectors, one in the north and one in the south. Understood to have operated as a monastic complex, the site is part of the ‘monastic belt’ of Hibis formed along with Dayr al-Baǧawāt, Dayr Muṣṭafā Kāšif and ʿAyn Saʿaf-East. The archaeological work carried out has been limited, and much of the documentation has been lost, severely limiting possible interpretations.

Northern Sector
The interior fittings of the northern sector support the hypothesis that it functioned as a xenodocheion (Ghica 2012: 206). Included in this compound can be recognised the following spaces: a church with a single nave and double access, a baptistery with a baptismal font decorated with a painted crux ansata, as well as a number of bedrooms, kitchens, bread ovens, and rooms with undetermined uses. One of these rooms for which a sufficient interpretation could not be established, located in the N-E corner of the building, housed a number of late phase masonry tombs.

Southern Sector
The southern sector is understood to have operated as a monastery, with at least two major construction phases identifiable. The compound includes a church with a basilical plan, equipped with an esonarthex, and likely a baptistery in the N-W corner. Additionally, in the S-E corner, there is an aedicule-topped dome, below which lies a crypt (Ghica 2012: 206). Like in the Northern Sector, there are also a number of bread ovens. Several staircases have been identified, and the thickness of the walls in the middle of the structure has led to the supposition that there was a tower, a typical architectural feature of monastic architecture.

Unfortunately, due to the absence of stratigraphic excavation, datable material and radiocarbon dates, only architectural and decorative features can be considered as tools for dating the structures. The absence of a western return aisle in the church of the Southern Structure suggest an architectural traditional prior to the development of the Egyptian basilical plan in the fifth and sixth centuries (Ghica 2012: 208). Given certain similarities to the Western Church at Ismant al-Ḫarāb (single nave of the church in the N sector), as well as the analysis of ceramics by Z. Barahona Mendieta, a fourth to fifth century foundation date has been given to the site (Ghica 2012: 210).

Archaeological research

The archaeological work conducted at this site has been very limited. The sites were partially cleared during a number of campaigns conducted in 1994-1996 and 2001. This work was carried out by the local inspectorate of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), under the direction of ʿA. ʿA.Ḫ. ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz. Unfortunately, these excavations were never published and all the documentation that remains consists of a limited number of film photographs. A number of topographical surveys were carried out by the Institut français d’archéologie orientale in the following years: March and September of 2007, conducted by V. Ghica; September 2008, conducted by V. Ghica, D. Laisney and J. Westerfeld; and in January 2012, conducted by Z. Barahona Mendieta, Y. Béliez and V. Ghica (Ghica 2012: 206). The lack of material and of fallen walls observed during the excavations carried out by the SCA in the 1990’s have led to the inference that the site was perhaps excavated during the colonial period.

The crypt of the church in the southern sector was cleaned during the DEChriM mission conducted in Kharga in December 2022, which saw excavation work at Šams al-Dīn and Dayr Muṣṭafā Kāšif, as well as restoration work at Dūš. This crypt was already known thanks to the work of the local inspectorate, but there were no images of it, nor was there any information available with regards to its architectural features. Additionally, ʿA. ʿA.Ḫ. ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz informed us that the crypt contained a sarcophagus with a crux ansata which, again, there were no images of. These factors were reason enough to spend two days cleaning the space, permitting photography and thus to the creation of a photogrammtric model. Detailed images were taken of the sarcophagus, the head end of which was indeed inscribed with a crux ansata. More than this, however, the crux was bordered by a theta on the left and what seems to be either an omicron or simply a circle to the right. Remains of a second sarcophagus, or the lid of the first sarcophagus were also retrieved. Furthermore, a pile of disarticulated and badly waterlogged bones was identified along the western wall. These were too fragmentary and in too poor a state for the biological profile of the individual(s) to be determined. It is unclear as to whether the bones were already in this spot when the space was excavated by the Egyptian team or if they were discarded here before filling the space. 


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 O. Brandt and G. Castiglia, 247-249 & figs. 9d. and 9e. Città del Vaticano: Pontificio Istituto di Archeologia Cristiana.
Ghica, V. 2019. “L’archéologie du monachisme égyptien au IVe siècle: État de la question.In Nag Hammadi à 70 ans, qu’avons-nous appris? Nag Hammadi at 70: What Have We Learned? Colloque international, Québec, Université Laval, 29-31 mai 2015, edited by E. Crégheur, L. Painchaud and T. Rasimus, 134-135.
Leuven-Paris-Bristol: Peeters.

Victor Ghica, Rhiannon Williams, 2020
Suggested citation
Victor Ghica, Rhiannon Williams, 2020, "ʿAyn Ǧallāl", 4CARE database - Fourth-Century Christian Archaeological Record of Egypt,
Site area: ʿAyn Ǧallāl North
Area nameʿAyn Ǧallāl North
DescriptionʿAyn Ǧallāl North
Site area: ʿAyn Ǧallāl South
Area nameʿAyn Ǧallāl South
DescriptionʿAyn Ǧallāl South
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External links
© D. Laisney, 2007
© D. Laisney, 2008
© D. Laisney, 2008
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