Qubbat al-Hawa Project

Site History

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Site History

Dayr Qubbat al-Hawa is located among the ancient tombs of the governors of Elephantine on the hill west of Aswan, in particular those of Khunes and Khui. The name of the area originates from the domed mausoleum (‘qubbat’) of sheikh Ali Abu ‘l-Hawa, which is located above the site on top of a sand hill.


The most notable features are the remains of the church in front of the tomb of Khunes, with the remains of mud-brick residential building above.


 In 1989, the Supreme Council of Antiquities excavated the site, and consequently many of the wall paintings and inscriptions were left to the ravages of the desert climate. These are now eroding rapidly and documentation and restoration work is required in order to save these important paintings.


In January- Febraury 2010, the Supreme Council of Antiquities resumed the excavation of the church and uncovered part of the original floor including the footings of the west and north walls. Updated plans of the church and the site have been constructed by Renate Dekker of Leiden (see below) which show that the building was reached by means of the ancient staircase in front of Khunes’ tomb, currently used by the visitors to the site


Until recently, only the tombs of Khunes (QH 34h) and Khui (QH 34e) were explicitly mentioned as having been part of the monastic complex, while ‘various systems of basins and new floors’ and ‘numerous dividing walls’ were observed ‘in the other tombs’.The excavation by the Bonner Ägyptologischen Seminars (1959-1981), which was published in 2008, and that by the University of Jaén in Spain (2008-present) have also yielded Christian iconographical and textual material from the tombs QH 33, 34c, 34f, 104, 105 and 110.( Edel 2008. On the Spanish excavations see http://www.ujaen.es/investiga/qubbetelhawa/index.php.)


Our thanks to our colleague Renate Dekker for her assistance in the historical background and Coptic translations with her ongoing research -

Dayr Qubbat al-Hawa: Recent excavations and new observations on its material organization


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