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Place names
Greekἁγίος τόπος τοῦ ἀθλοφόρου μάρτυρος Ἀββᾶ Φοιβάμμωνος
Copticptopos etouaab (n)apa voibammwn
Arabicدير البحري
EnglishDeir el Bahari | Monastery of St. Phoibammon
Site map
Site information
DEChriM ID63
Trismegistos GeoID61074
Pleiades ID-
Ancient nameApa Phoibammōnos topos
Modern nameApa Phoibammon in the Rock
Latitude 25.735378
Longitude 32.516823
Date from576
Date to800
TypologyMonastic settlement
Dating criteria-

‘Apa Phoibammon in the Rock’, denoted ‘Phoibammon I’ by Krueger (Krueger 2020: 152), is situated near Armant on top of a “deep incised Wadi in the slope of the limestone plateau”, at the end of a “narrow winding valley” (Winkler 1938: 8, with a map on the final page (unnumbered); Ghali Bey 1949; Bachatly 1951a: 13; Boutros and Décobert 2000: fig. 2; Brooks Hedstrom 2017: 252-255; for recent images, see: Wipszycka 2018: fig. 16 on p. 321; Brooks Hedstrom 2017: figs. 13 and 71-73 on pp. 46, 253, 255-256). Comprising cells, a chapel, refectory, kitchens, and stables, the site was initially considered by the excavator C. Bachatly to be the Monastery of Apa Phoibammon due to the mention of Apa Abraham, the ‘economist of the Laura of the Holy Phoibammon’ (Rémondon et al. 1965 no. 19a, with other references to Apa Phoibammon found in nos. 34, 68b, 78, 119, 154 (= 78), and 175; Timm 1984-1992: 1392). This association was understandably criticised, given the (relatively secure) association of the Monastery of Apa Phoibammon with monastic remains in the Temple of Hatshepsut at Dayr al-Baḥarī (= Krueger’s ‘Phoibammon II’) (e.g. Doresse 1949: 344; Quecke 1967; Krause 1981; id 1985; id 1990; id 2010; see also: Timm 1984-1992: 1380-1388). Despite this, Bachatly should not be considered to have been entirely wrong, with M. Krause hypothesising that the settlement at Dayr al-Baḥarī is a secondary settlement, thus making is plausible that this is the earlier manifestation of the community. For a bibliography regarding this generally accepted chronological development, see: Krueger 2020: p. 152 n. 7. The dating of the site makes this even more conceivable, with Bachatly originally supposing a fourth century foundation date, which has since been verified by analysis of surface ceramic which attests to occupation from the fourth through to the sixth century, while the occupation of ‘Phoibammon II’ spans from the sixth through to the eighth centuries (Bachatly 1951a: 13-14; Boutros and Décobert 2000: 79; Timm 1984-1992: 1393; Krueger 2020: 153).

Archaeological research

The site was first identified by H.-A. Winkler, who gave it the title of ‘Site 29’ (Winkler 1938: 8; Timm 1984-1992: 1392). Following its identification, excavations were conducted by the Société d’archéologie copte, under the direction of Charles Bachatly, with funding provided by HH. N. H. Wissa, a member of the society. Work was conducted between October 1947 and February 1948, resulting in the publication of three volumes published in reverse order: vol. III = 1961, vol. II = 1965, vol. I = 1981, concerning archaeobotany, epigraphy, and archaeology respectively (Täckolm et al. 1961; Rémondon et al. 1965; Khater and KHS-Burmester 1981). Little more attention has been paid to this site, with it seeming that most references made have been done so with the intention of discrediting the hypotheses of Bachatly, i.e., name, date, and possible Pachomian origins (Doresse 1949: 344; Quecke 1967; Krause 1981; id 1985; id 1990; id 2010). The site was surveyed in the late 1990s as part of a broader IFAO mission dedicated to the area between Ballas and Armant, but unfortunately, little detail is given regarding the site in this preliminary publication, and there does not appear to have ever been a final report (in which the ceramic study was supposed to be included) (Boutros and Décobert 2000: 77, n. 1). Most recently, the work of F. Kreuger has brought to light the existence of a large dossier of Coptic texts concerning the monastic communities of Apa Phoibammon I and the Topos of Apa Ezekial (= Dayr al-Saqiya) (see Kruger 2019 and 2020). This work has been the most thorough so-far dedicated to the site.


• Bachatly, C. 1950. “Thèbes. Le monastère de Phoibammon.” Chronique d’Égypte 25 : 167-169.
• Bachatly, C. 1951a. “A Coptic Monastery Near Thebes.” Archaeology 4: 13-14.
•Bachatly, C. 1951b. “Encriers coptes dans le monastère de Phoibammon près de Luxour.” Bulletin de la Société d’archéologie copte 13: 33-35.
• Boutros, R. and C. Décobert. 2000. “Les installations chrétiennes entre Ballas et Armant: implantation et survivance.” In Études coptes VII, edited by N. Bosson, 77-108. Paris and Leuven: Peeters.
• Brooks Hedstrom, D. L. 2017. The Monastic Landscape of Late Antique Egypt. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
• Doresse, J, 1949. “Monastères coptes aux environs d’Armant en Thébaide.” Analecta Bollandiana 67: 327-344.
• Ghali Bey, M. B. 1949. “Note sur la découverté du monastère de Phoibammon, dans la montagne théban.” In Actes du XXIe congrès international des orientalistes, Paris 23-31 juillet 1948, 341-343. Paris: Imprimerie Nationale.
• Grossmann, P. 2002. Christliche Architektur in Ägypten, 251, 268. Leiden: Brill.

• Khater, A. And O. H. E. KHS-Burmester. 1981. Le monastère de Phoibammon dans la Thebaïde vol. I: Archéologie du site. Cairo: La société d’archéologie copte.
• Krause, M. 1981. “Zwei Phoibammon-Klöster in Theben-West?” Mitteilungen des deutschen archäologischen Instituts, Abt. Kairo 37: 261-266.

• Krause, M. 1985. “Die Beziehungen zwischen den beiden Phoibammon-Klöstern auf dem thebanischen Westufer.” Bulletin de la Société d’archéologie copte 27: 31–44.
• Krause, M. 1990. “Die ägyptischen Klöster. Bemerkungen zu den Phoibammon-Klöstern in Theben-West und den Apollon-Klöstern.” In Coptic Studies. Acts of the Third International Congress of Coptic Studies, Warsaw, 20–25 August 1984, edited by W. Godleswki, 203–207. Warsaw: Archeobooks.
• Krause, M. 2010. “Coptic Texts from Western Thebes. Recovery and Publication from the Late Nineteenth Century to the Present.” In Christianity and Monasticism in Upper Egypt, Vol. 2: Nag Hammadi–Esna, edited by G. Grabra and H. N. Takla, 63–78, 73f. Cairo: American University in Cairo Press.
• Krueger, F. 2019. “The Papyrological Rediscovery of the Monastery of Apa Ezekiel and Bishop Andrew of Hermonthis (6th Century). Preliminary Report on the Edition of the Coptic Ostraca at the Leipzig University Library.” Journal of Coptic Studies 21: 73-114.
• Krueger, F. 2020. “Revisiting the First Monastery of Apa Phoibammon. A Prosopography and Relative Chronology of its Connections to the Monastery of Apa Ezekiel Within the Monastic Network of Hermonthis During the 6th Century.” Archiv für Papyrusforschung und verwandte Gebiete
Quecke, H. 1967. “Review von Ch. Bachatly, Le monastère de Phoibammon dans la thébaide, tom. II, III. Cairo.” Orientalia 36, 2: 259-261.

• Rémondon, R., Y. Abd el-Maissih, W. C. Till and O. H. E. KHS-Burmester. 1965. Le monastère de Phoibammon dans la Thebaïde vol. II: Graffiti, inscriptions et ostraca. Cairo: La société d’archéologie copte.
• Täckolm, V., A. M. Greiss, A. K. el-Duveini and Z. Iskander. 1961. Le monastère de Phoibammon dans la Thebaïde vol. III: Identifications botaniques, zoologiques et chimiques. Cairo: La société d’archéologie copte.
• Timm, S. 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. 3, 1379-1393. Weisbaden: Dr Ludwig Reichert.

• Winkler, H.-A. 1938. Rock Drawings of Southern Upper Egypt I. London: The Egypt Exploration Society.
• Wipszycka, E. 2018. The Second Gift of the Nile. Monks and Monasteries of Late Antique Egypt, 318-322. Warsaw: The Journal of Juristic Papyrology.

Rhiannon Williams, Victor Ghica, 2021
Suggested citation
Rhiannon Williams, Victor Ghica, 2021, "Apa Phoibammon in the Rock", 4CARE database - Fourth-Century Christian Archaeological Record of Egypt,
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External links
After Bachatly, Khater, Burmester, 1981
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