A Norwegian-French archaeological mission working on the Tal site, south of Qasr Al-Ajouz in Bahariya Oasis, has discovered a number of basalt stone buildings carved into the rocks and buildings constructed of mud bricks.
Osama Talaat, Head of the Islamic, Coptic and Jewish Antiquities Sector at the Supreme Council of Antiquities, said the mud brick buildings date to between the 4th and 7th Centuries CE.
They consist of six regions that include the remains of three churches and the monks’ cloisters, along with walls bearing graffiti and symbols with Coptic connotations.
Mission Head Victor Jika indicated that the mission’s current season has seen the discovery of 19 rooms carved into the rock and a church. The latter has two rooms attached to it carved into the rock, with the walls bearing writings in yellow ink that include religious writings from the Bible in the Greek language, reflecting the nature of monastic life.
The discovery provides proof of the monks’ settlement in this region since the 5th Century CE, with the first sector of the six areas being a church, its dining hall, an area for the monks’ residence, and a number of other rooms.
This is in addition to several pieces of ostraca, or pottery shavings bearing Greek writings dating back to the 5th and 6th Centuries CE. The discovery is important as it provides an understanding of the formation of the first monastic congregations in Egypt in this region.