Monastic Residence A

Monastic residence A, located south of the main church complex, was only partially excavated by the original Scriptorium team. The structure underwent several building phases.

A central multi-roomed dwelling was adapted and expanded to accommodate more cells, prayer areas and cooking facilities. A prayer area and a double hall were added during the second phase of construction, and both contained the fragmentary remains of wall paintings with images of Christ and the saints, angels, and monks.1 The double room hall most closely parallels designs at Kellia where larger rooms were sometimes built to accommodate more guests as such sites increased in popularity as a places for pilgrimage. The painted fragments recovered from this room included one with an inscription identifying one face as that of Poemen, a well known desert father of Scetis.2 The ceramic material collected by the Scriptorium team extended from the Late Roman (early fourth century) to the Fatimid periods.3 The recovery of over forty complete amphorae from the late Byzantine and early Islamic periods demonstrates that the residence was occupied during the seventh to ninth centuries.

Figure 1 (upper left). A room in Residence A, with pottery remains in situ, at the time of excavation. Figure 2 (upper right). A latrine in Residence A. Figure 3 (lower left). Detail of latrine, with seat made of petrified wood. Figure 4 (lower right). Wall painting fragments showing the figure of a saint.

  1. 1.Bastiaan Van Elderen, “Preliminary Report-Wadi Natrun Excavations: 1995 Season,” submitted to the Supreme Council of Antiquities, 27 March 1995, and personal observation by Darlene Brooks Hedstrom in 1995; Reagan Wicks, “Supervisor’s Report for Area AB,” submitted to the Wadi Natrun Excavations, April 1996.
  2. 2. Elizabeth Bolman, “Preliminary Report on the Wall Paintings at John the Little,” submitted to the Wadi Natrun Excavations, April 1996.
  3. 3. Some glazeware was identified in the field as Mamluk in 1996. Darlene Brooks Hedstrom’s research into the diagnostic potsherds has led her to revise these attributions and consider the pieces as examples of Fayyumi ware, an early glazed type that dates from 850 to 1150 (the Fatimid period). For a detailed discussion see G. Scanlon, “Fayyumi Pottery: A Long-lived Misnomer in Egyptian Islamic Ceramics. Type I,” Bulletin de la Société archéologie d’Alexandrie 45 (1993), 295–330.