DAYR ABU DARAJ. About 45 miles (68 km) to the southwest of Suez and about 160 yards from the police station known as Bi’r Abu Daraj, and 18 miles (28 km) from ‘Ayn Sukhnah—that is to say, on the road that runs along the Red Sea—are the ruins of the Dayr Abu Daraj. These include several elements of different age and origin. There are, first of all, Nabataean traces, this road being the one taken by the Nabataeans, and the square tower appears to be of Roman and military origin.
Some authors have wished to see here Ptolemaic ruins. Hermits seem indeed to have installed themselves there, and there is no doubt that several hermitages were grouped around a well and a church. The renown of Saint Antony, whose monastery is not far distant (about 37 miles, or 60 km, as the crow flies), and the water supply attracted the hermits. A small monastery or center for the assembly of the hermits on Saturdays and Sundays was constructed there.
In 1717, C. Sicard (1982; his source is unclear) saw there the Monastery of John Climacus (daraj means "steps," whence the association with the saint's work, by the title of klimax, for klimax means "ladder"; Vol. 1, p. 42). It was in the twentieth century that archaeologists became interested in the site and described it. Wilkinson mentioned it in 1823, but his notes were not to be published until more than a century later (Littmann, 1953, p. 27). The site is described by several authors: Scaife (1936, pp. 63-64), Meredith (1952, p. 106), Fontaine (1955-1956, pp. 53-83), Martin (1966-1971), and Meinardus (1965, pp. 364-65; 1977, pp. 509-510)
MAURICE MARTIN, S.J.
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