DAYR AL-MALAK MIKHA’IL (Qamulah). [The first section of this entry discusses the location and history of this monastery. The second section addresses what little is known concerning the architecture.]
This monastery, the most southerly of those on the left bank of the Nile between Naqadah and Qamulah, is situated on the edge of the desert, less than a mile (1 km) from the cultivated lands and about 2 miles (3 km) from the town of Qibli Qamulah. A map published in 1943 and 1954 calls it Dayr Qamulah al-Qibli, no doubt in contrast to DAYR MAR BUQTUR, which it designates as Dayr Buqtur al-Bahari (of the north).
It does indeed seem that this is the one named by ABU SALIH THE ARMENIAN (1895, pp. 283-84) at the beginning of the thirteenth century. According to this author, it is also called Dayr al-‘Ayn because of a neighboring well, the water of which was renowned.
Fathers Protais and Francois in 1668 spoke of five monasteries on the left bank at Naqadah, but named only three (Sauneron, 1974, p. 93). J. Vansleb, who was unable to go beyond Jirja, copied their text and naturally named only three monasteries (1677, p. 411; 1678, p. 246). C. Sicard did not speak of it. In his list of the Coptic churches, S. Clarke named it as a church dependent on Qamulah
(1912, p. 216, no. 5); likewise, ‘ABD AL-MASIH SALIB pointed out the monastery and remarked that its church was served by the clergy of Qamulah (1924, p. 180). O. Meinardus (1965, pp. 309-310; 1977, p. 423) described its modern state, mentioning two churches, one to the north and the other to the south of the monastery. Clarke (pp. 121-23) gave the plan of the more ancient church, that of the north, and A. J. Butler reproduced the plan drawn by Sir Arthur Gordon (1884, Vol. 1, p. 360).
MAURICE MARTIN, S.J.
The old church of the monastery belongs typologically to the last phase of development in Egyptian church building, in which the area of the naos is divided into nine equal-sized domed chambers (bays). It is distinguished from the very late churches of this type, deriving only from modern times, through the presence of a khurus (room between the naos and the sanctuary), which was later abandoned. The only noteworthy feature in this building is the semicircular terminations on the narrow sides of the khurus. In conjunction with the eastern apse, they unite into the architectural form of a triconch, which enjoyed particular favor in the early Christian architecture of Egypt, but is here no more than a late reminiscence. In later times, altars were installed in the apse side rooms, while the side doors of the khurus were walled up. The monastery is mentioned by Abu Salih, 1895, fol. 104a; not to be confused with the second Monastery of Saint Michael, mentioned in fol. 104b and otherwise known as DAYR AL-MAJMA‘). The present church, however, did not yet exist in his time, but may have been erected in the fourteenth century at the earliest. The small chapel on the north side belongs to modern times. It now lies in ruins.PETER GROSSMANN
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