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Place names
Arabicجبل الطير
EnglishGebel el-Tayr
FrenchGebel el-Teir | Gebel eṭ-Ṭayr
Site map
Site information
DEChriM ID74
Trismegistos GeoID700
Pleiades ID776176
Ancient name-
Modern nameǦabal al-Ṭayr
Date from-140
Date to-
TypologyMonastic settlement, quarry
Dating criteria-

The Ǧabal al-Ṭayr is a mountain range situated c. 6km north of the town of Kharga (2km north of the al-Baǧawāt necropolis). In antiquity the area was home to a limestone quarry, which was situated in the western half of this collection of hills, in a wadi oriented south-east/north-west (Devauchelle and Wagner 1984: VII, 50). The importance of the area stems from the numerous Demotic, Greek, and Coptic graffiti (as well as Arabic and English) which are concentrated in five sectors (numbered one to five) (Ghica 2012: 227 fig. 13). Two published Christian graffiti are situated in zone I (Graf. Gebel Teir I. 6 and I. 16, see Artefacts), but the vast majority of Christian graffiti is situated in zone IV, which remains unpublished.  

Archaeological research

The first European known to have visited the area was likely F. Aymes, the governor of Kharga in the early 19th century, who signed his name on the purported hermitage in zone I. Additional figures known to have visited, based on related publications, include G. Schweinfurth, W. de Bock, G. Lefèbvre, H. A. Winkler and A. Fahry. This was then followed by G. Wagner and D. Devauchelle who visited in 1974, again the following year (accompanied by S. Sauneron), then every following year until 1980 when Wagner and Devauchelle conducted the first systematic documentation of the graffiti; the Greek in 1980, and the Demotic in 1980 and 1981 (Devauchelle and Wagner 1984). Prior to this, the Demotic graffiti had previously been copied by M. Muszynski, though it was not able to be published prior to his death. A further three missions were conducted by IFAO in February (V. Ghica) and September (V. Ghica and D. Laisney) 2007, and September (V. Ghica and D. Laisney) 2008 (Ghica 2012: 227). The ceramic material from the area is being studied by S. Marchand, while the Coptic graffiti and dipinti (briefly mentioned in Roquet 1991) in zone IV is being studied by V. Ghica and J. Westerfeld (Ghica 2012: 227, n. 199).


• de Bock, W. 1901. Matériaux pour servir à l’archéologie de l’Égypte chrétienne, 37-38, figs. 41-53. Saint Petersberg: Eugéne Thiele.
• Brunsch, W. 1980. “Sechs demotische Graffiti vom Gebel el-Têr in der Oase Chargê.” Wiener Zeitschrift für die Kunde des Morgenlandes 72: 7-14, pl. 1-4.
• Devauchelle, D. and G. Wagner. 1984. Les graffites du gebel teir. Textes démotiques et grecs. Cairo: Institut français d’archéologie orientale.
• Fakhry. A. 1942. Baḥria Oasis, vol. I, 3-4. Cairo: Government Press.
• Fakhry. A. 1951. “The Rock Inscriptions of Gabal El-Teir at Kharga Oasis.” Annales du Service des Antiquités de l’Égypte 51: 401-434, pl. I-V, A.
• Fraser, P. M. 1954. “Greco-Roman Egypt-Greek Inscriptions.” Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 40: 125, n. 8; 130, n. 31.
• Ghica, V. 2012. “Pour une histoire du christianisme dans le Désert occidental d’Égypte.” Journal des savants 2: 227-230.
• Lefebvre, G. 1907. Recueil des inscriptions grecques-chrétiennes d’Égypte, 67-68. Cairo: Institut français d’archéologie orientale.
• Quaegebeur, J. 1980. “Aspecten van de Romeinse aanwezigheid in het Land van de Farao’s. Pheonix 26, 2: 123-125.
• Rocquet, G. 1991. “Jabal al-Ṭayr.” In The Coptic Encyclopedia, vol. 4., edited by A. Atiya, 1317a-1318a. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company.
• Schweinfurth, G. 1875. “Notizen zur Kenntnis der Oase El-Khargeh.” Petermann’s Mitteilungen 21: 388.
• Wagner, G. 1976. “Inscriptions et graffiti grecs inédits de la Grande Oasis.” Bulletin de l’Institut français d’archéologie orientale 76: 285.
• Winkler, H. A. 1938-9. Rock-Drawings of Southern Upper Egypt, II, 9. London: The Egypt Exploration Society.

Rhiannon Williams, Victor Ghica, 2021
Suggested citation
Rhiannon Williams, Victor Ghica, 2021, "Ǧabal al-Ṭayr", 4CARE database - Fourth-Century Christian Archaeological Record of Egypt,
Site area: Ǧabal al-Ṭayr - sector 1
Area nameǦabal al-Ṭayr - sector 1
DescriptionǦabal al-Ṭayr - sector 1
Site area: Ǧabal al-Ṭayr - sector 4
Area nameǦabal al-Ṭayr - sector 4
DescriptionSector 4
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