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Place names
EgyptianḤw.t-(tȝ-)ḥry-ỉb | Km (wr)
GreekἈθριβις | Ἀθριβιτῶν πόλις
LatinAthribis | Athrivis | Atribi | Atrivi
Copticacrhbi | acrepi
Arabicتل اتريب | اتريب
EnglishAthribis | Benha | Athlibis | Hathribis | Atharrabis | Atharambe | Tell el-Atrib | Kom el-Atrib
FrenchAthribis | Tell Atrib | Benha | Athrébi
Site map
Site information
DEChriM ID60
Trismegistos GeoID369
Pleiades ID727078
Ancient nameAthribis
Modern nameAtrīb
Date from-1500
Date to900
Dating criteria-

The ancient site of Athribis, modern-day Banhā, is situated c. 50km north of Cairo in the Nile Delta. One of the best-known cities of the Delta, specifically in the Greco-Roman and Christian periods, it is frequently referenced in Coptic martyrologies. Today, most of the monuments are situated below the modern town. Throughout the extensive archaeological work to have been conducted at the site, a period of occupation ranging from the Late Period until the Arab Conquest has been attested to, with noteworthy structures including two temples from the 25th and 26th Dynasties, numerous bathing complexes (from the Ptolemaic and Roman periods), and a Roman villa, in addition to extensive artisanal and domestic areas (the former including lime kilns and areas for ceramic production), and most importantly, the architectural remnants of a church.

According to the Coptic martyrdom of Shenufe, Athribis is said to have been home to a bishopric prior to 325 (Timm 1984-1992: 257-265; Stewart 1991: 307). Despite literary attestations, however, the material traces of Christianity at the site are somewhat elusive. A structure identified in the center of the city (i.e., Kom Sidi Yusuf) by A. Rowe in 1938, initially considered a Greco-Roman temple, has since been interpreted as a church (Rowe 1938a: 531-532; id 1938b: 130-131; Vernus 1978 p. XI, n. 2). To the north and east of this was a rubbish dump (trench D) wherein architectural elements, interior decoration and liturgical furnishings were uncovered (Gòrecki 2017). The structure was hypothesised to have been erected as early as the fifth century, modified at least on one occasion, and then destroyed by fire between 619 and 815 (attested to via the thick ashy layer with which these remnants were mingled with in the dump) (Gòrecki 2017: 248). Textual sources attest to a monastery and a church dedicated to the Virgin at Athribis, which this structure has been tentatively identified with (Amélineau 1893: 67-68; Stewart 1991: 307; Ruszczyc 1997). The page dedicated to the dig on the PCMA website states that these are the remnants of one of the oldest churches in Egypt, dating to the fourth century CE. While there are indeed masses of material dating from the fourth century, predominantly coins and ceramic, as well as varying material attesting to Christianity in the area, no clear fourth century levels have been identified in direct association with the church (Ruszczyc 1975: 338-339; id 1990: 319).

Archaeological research

The earliest archaeological work to have been conducted at the site seems to have been that of the Egyptian Antiquities in the first half of the 20th century (Adam 1958: 303-304), in addition to clandestine excavations by locals. This was followed by a brief campaign conducted by the University of Liverpool (Rowe 1938a and b). The most extensive work to have been conducted at Athribis, however, has been that of the Polish, which commenced in 1957 and did not cease until 1999 (with a few short breaks). Originally conducted by the National Museum in Warsaw, from the third season onwards, the mission was taken over by the University of Warsaw Archaeological Center in Cairo, which then came to establish a collaborative mission with the Coptic Committee. The work concentrated on two areas of the site, one to the north (i.e., ‘Kom A’) and one to the north-east (i.e, ‘Kom Sidi Yusuf’). From 1957 until 1968, work was directed by K. Michałowski, followed by B. Ruszczyc (1969, 1979–1984), K. Myśliwiec (1985–1995), and finally H. Szymańska (1998–1999), with co-operative institutions including the Archaeological Museum of Kraków, the Coptic Committee, the Egyptian Antiquities Organization.


• Adam, S. 1958. “Recent Discoveries in the Eastern Delta (Dec. 1950-May 1955).” Annales du Service des Antiquités de l’Égypte 55: 303-304
• Amélineau, E. 1893. La Géographie de l’Égypte à l’époque copte, 66-69. Paris: Imprimerie Nationale.
• Ellis, R. 1957. “Les fouilles de la mission polonaise.”Egypt Travel Magazine 37 (September): 12-16. 

• Ellis, R. 1958. “La seconde saison de fouilles de la mission polonaise à Athribis en Basse-Égypte, 1958.” Egypt Travel Magazine 50 (October): 7-12. 
• Górecki, T. 1990. “Coptic Painted Amphorae from Tell Atrib: Introductory Remarks on Decoration.” In Coptic and Nubian pottery: International workshop, Nieborów August 29–31, 1988, I, edited by W. Godlewski, 34–48. Warsaw: National Museum in Warsaw.
• Górecki, T. 2017. “Remnants of a Byzantine Church at Athribis.” In Christianity and Monasticism in Northern Egypt: Beni Suef, Giza, and the Nile Delta, edited by G. Gabra and H.N. Takla, 239-252. Cairo: American University in Cairo Press.

• Kołodziejczyk, K. 1972. “Report of the Polish Archaeological Mission’s Excavation at Tell Atrib in 1963.” Études et Travaux 6: 138-145.
• Krzyzanowska, A. 1990. “Remarques sur la circulation monétaire en Égypte du IVe au VIle siècles - Fouille archéologique copto-polonaise à Tell Atrib.” In Coptic Studies. Acts of the Third International Congress of Coptic Studies, Warsaw, 20-25th August 1984, edited by W. Godlewski, 209-210. Warsaw: PWN-Éditions scientifiques de Pologne.
• Krzyżanowska, A. 2009. Tell Atrib 1985–1995, II. Les monnaies. Warsaw: Neriton.

• Michałowski, K. 1961. Les fouilles polonaises de 1960 à Tell Atrib et Palmyre. Studi Classice 3: 265-267.
• Michałowski, K. 1962a. “Fouilles polonaises à Tell Atrib en 1960.” Annales du Service des Antiquités de l’Égypte 57: 68-77.

• Michałowski, K. 1962b. “Les fouilles polonaises à Tell Atrib (1957-1959).” Annales du Service des Antiquités de l’Égypte 57: 49-65.
• Michałowski, K. 1964a. “Les fouilles polonaises à Tell Atrib (Saison 1961).” Annales du Service des Antiquités de l’Égypte 58: 235-244.
• Michałowski, K. 1964b. “Sixième campagne de fouilles à Tell Atrib (Saison 1962).” Annales du Service des Antiquités de l’Égypte 58: 245-254.
• Młynarczyk, J. 1973. “Egyptian Types of Terracotta Lamps from Tell Atrib.” Études et Travaux 7: 81-113.
• Młynarczyk, J. 2012. Tell Atrib 1985–1995, III. Terracotta Oil Lamps. Warsaw: Neriton.
• Myśliwiec, K. 1990a. “Polish–Egyptian Excavations at Tell Atrib in 1989.”Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean 1: 5–9.
• Myśliwiec, K. 1990b. “Polsko-egipskie wykopaliska w Tell Atrib w 1989 roku (Polish–Egyptian excavations at Tell Atrib in 1989).”Raporty Wykopaliskowe 1: 13–18.
• Myśliwiec, K. 1991a. “Polish–Egyptian excavations at Tell Atrib in 1990.”Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean 2: 25–30.
• Myśliwiec, K. 1991b. “Polsko-egipskie wykopaliska w Tell Atrib w 1990 roku (Polish–Egyptian excavations at Tell Atrib in 1990).”Raporty Wykopaliskowe 2: 20–26.
• Myśliwiec, K. 1992a. “Some Ancient Egyptian aspects of Hellenistic cults in Athribis.” In 50 Years of Polish Excavations in Egypt and the Near East: Acts of the Symposium at the Warsaw University 1986, edited by S. Jakobielski and J. Karkowski, 260–265. Warsaw: Centre d’archéologie méditerranéenne de l’Académie polonaise des sciences.
• Myśliwiec, K. 1992b. “Excavations at Tell Atrib in 1985.”Études et Travaux 16: 383–392.
• Myśliwiec, K. 1992c. “Polish–Egyptian Excavations at Tell Atrib in 1991.”Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean 3: 24–28.
• Myśliwiec, K. 1992d. “Sprawozdanie z polsko-egipskich wykopalisk w Tell Atrib w 1991 roku (Report on Polish–Egyptian excavations at Tell Atrib in 1991).”Raporty Wykopaliskowe 3: 23–25.
• Myśliwiec, K. 1993a. “Tell Atrib, 1992.” Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean 4: 32–39.
• Myśliwiec, K. 1993b. “Tell Atrib, 1992.”Raporty Wykopaliskowe 4: 34–41.
• Myśliwiec, K. 1993c. “Polish Excavations at Tell Atrib.” Annales du Service des Antiquités de l’Égypte 72: 53-80.

• Myśliwiec, K. 1994a. “Polsko-egipskie wykopaliska w Tell Atrib w 1993 (Polish–Egyptian Excavations at Tell Atrib in 1993).”Raporty Wykopaliskowe 5: 42–49.
• Myśliwiec, K. 1994b. “Tell Atrib 1993.”Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean 5: 40–47
• Myśliwiec, K. 1995a. “Tell Atrib 1994.”Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean 6: 37–47.
• Myśliwiec, K. 1995b. “Tell Atrib 1994.”Raporty Wykopaliskowe 6: 20–30.
• Myśliwiec, K. 1996a. “Tell Atrib: Excavations 1995.”Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean 7: 53–60.
• Myśliwiec, K. 1996b. “Tell Atrib: prace wykopaliskowe w sezonie 1995 (Tell Atrib: Excavations in the 1995 season).”Raporty Wykopaliskowe 7: 80–88.
• Myśliwiec, K. 2000. “Rescue Excavations.” In Tell Atrib 1985–1995I, edited by Z. Sztetyłło and K. Myśliwiec, 9–49. Warsaw: Neriton.
• Myśliwiec, K. 2007. “Tell Atrib.” In Seventy Years of Polish Archaeology in Egypt, edited by E. Laskowska-Kusztal, 135–144. Warsaw: PCMA UW.
• Myśliwiec, K. 2017. “Baths from the Ptolemaic Period in Athribis (Tell Atrib, Lower Egypt).” In Collective Baths in Egypt 2: New Discoveries and Perspectives, edited by B. Redon, 65–82. Cairo: Institut français d’archéologie orientale.
• Myśliwiec, K. 2020. “The ‘Forgotten’ Tell Atrib.” In Crossing Time and Space to Commemorate Hanna Szymańska, edited by K. Myśliweiec and A. Ryś, 167-179. Warsaw: Wiesbaden.
• Myśliwiec, K. and S. Abu Senna. 1995. “Polish–Egyptian Excavations at Tell Atrib in 1991–1993.”Études et Travaux 17: 205–240.

• Myśliwiec, K. and M. Abdel Haq Rageb. 1992. “Fouilles polono-égyptiennes à Tell Atrib en 1986–1990.”Études et Travaux 16: 393–416.
• Myśliwiec, K. and M. Bakr Said. 1998. “Polish–Egyptian Excavations at Tell Atrib in 1994–1995.” Études et Travaux 18: 179–219.
• Myśliwiec, K. and T. Herbich. 1988. “Polish Archaeological Activities at Tell Atrib in 1985.” In The Archaeology of the Nile Delta, Egypt: Problems and Priorities, edited by E. C. M. van den Brink, 177–203. Amsterdam: Netherlands Foundation for Archaeological Research in Egypt.
• Myśliwiec, K., T. Herbich, A. Krzyżanowska, Z. Sztetyłło, and A. Łukaszewicz. 1993. “Polish Excavations at Tell Atrib in 1985.”Annales du Service des Antiquités de l’Égypte 72: 53–80.
• Myśliwiec, K., Z. Sztetyłło and A. Krzyżanowska. 1988. “Remains of a Ptolemaic Villa at Athribis.” Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts, Abteilung Kairo 44: 183–197.
• Południkiewicz, A. 2016. “Painted Decoration on Water Jars from Byzantine Athribis in the Egyptian Delta.” Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean 25: 781–798.
• Rowe, A. 1938a. “Short Report on Excavations of the Institute of Archaeology Liverpool at Athribis.” Annales du Service des Antiquités de l’Égypte 38: 523-532.
• Rowe, A. 1938b. “Preliminary Report on Excavations of the Institute of Archaeology Liverpool at Athribis.” Annals of Archaeology and Anthropology (Univ. of Liverpool) 25: 123-132;
• Ruszczyc, B. 1975. “Tell Atrib – Kôm Sidi Youssef 1969.” Études et Travaux 8: 335-340.

• Ruszczyc, B. 1976. “Le temple d’Amasis à Tell-Atrib.” Études et Travaux 9: 117-127.
• Ruszczyc, B. 1986. “Wykopaliska polsko-koptyjskie na komie Sidi Youssuf w Tell Atrib.” Rocznik Muzeum Narodowego w Warszawie 30: 331-353.
• Ruszczyc, B. 1990. “Tell Atrib – Kôm Sidi Youssef 1979.” Études et Travaux 14: 317-319.
• Ruszczyc, B. 1992. “Tell Atrib – Kôm Sidi Youssef 1983.” Études et Travaux 16: 421-423.
• Ruszczyc, B. 1997. Kościół pod wezwaniem Świętej Dziewicy w Tell Atrib. Warsaw: Polska Akademia Naik.
• Scholl, T. 1995. ““Kilns” of the Ptolemaic Period at Tell Atrib.” In Hellenistic and Roman Pottery in the Eastern Mediterranean: Advances in Scientific Studies. Acts of the II Nieborów Pottery Workshop, Nieborów, 18–20 December 1993, edited by H. Meyza and J. Młynarczyk, 423–430. Warsaw: Research Center for Mediterranean Archaeology, Polish Academy of Sciences.
• Scholl, T., M. Daszkiewicz and J. Raabe. 1995. ““Kilns” from the Ptolemaic Period in Tell Atrib.”Études et Travaux 17: 279–307.
• Stewart, R. 1991. In The Coptic Encyclopedia, Volume, edited by A. S. Atiya, 307. New York: MacMillan Publishing Company.
• Sztetyłło, Z. and K. Myśliwiec. 2000. Tell Atrib 1985-1995, I. Warsaw: Neriton.
• Szymańska, H. 1999. “Report on the Activities of the Polish–Egyptian Archaeological Mission at Tell Atrib, 1998.” Annales du Service des Antiquités de l’Égypte 74: 75–82.

• Timm, S. ed. 1984-1992. Das Christliche-Koptische Ägypten in Arabischer Zeit: Eine Sammlung Christicher Stätten in Ägypten in Arabischer Zeit unter Ausschyss von Alexandria, Kairo, des Apa-Mena-Klosters (Der Abu Mina), der Sketis (Wadi n-Natrun) und der Sinai-Region. Vol. 1, 257-265. Weisbaden: Dr Ludwig Reichert.
• Tybulewicz, R. 2015. “Two Terracotta Incense Burners with “Horns” and Vine Scroll Decoration from Tell Atrib (Egypt).” Études et Travaux 28: 191–200.
• Vernus, P. 1975. “Athribis.” In Lexikon der Ägyptologie, vol. I, edited by W. Helck and O. Eberhardt, 519-524. Wiesbaden: O. Harrassowitz.
• Vernus, P. 1978. Athribis. Textes et documents relatifs à la géographie, aux cultes et à l’histoire d’une ville du delta égyptien à l’époque pharanoique. Cairo: Institut français d’archéologie orientale.

• Welc, F. 2014. Tell Atrib 1985–1995, IV. Faience Objects. Warsaw: University of Warsaw Press.

This is not a complete bibliography, for additional works see External Links.

Rhiannon Williams, Victor Ghica, 2022
Suggested citation
Rhiannon Williams, Victor Ghica, 2022, "Atrīb", 4CARE database - Fourth-Century Christian Archaeological Record of Egypt,
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