A cross-regional initiative for the study of
monasticism in the late antique Near East
The site of Beni Hassan is located on the east bank of the Nile in Middle Egypt, approximately 20 km south of the provincial capital of Minya. It is best known for its rock-cut tombs built for senior officials of the Eleventh and Twelfth Dynasties of the Middle Kingdom (ca. 2125-1795 BCE). These tombs have been the subject of much scholarly discussion since Percy Newberry systematically investigated them in 1890 as part of the larger archaeological survey project launched by the Egypt Exploration Fund in London. Far less attention, however, has been given to the Christian monks who came to the site well over two thousand years later (ca. 500 CE) and converted several tombs into spaces for living and worship. Such adaptive reuse was by no means unique for the time and indeed the region seems to have been populated in late antiquity with monks who were fashioning residences and chapels out of former tombs, temples, and quarries in the mountains and wadis of the outer desert. The Beni Hassan in Late Antiquity Project, an ARCE-affiliated field project, was inaugurated to examine these practices in their regional context.
Beni Hassan in Late Antiquity Project
View from the south of the mountain in which the Middle Kingdom tombs were built at Beni Hassan. The tombs occur at an elevation of approximately 110 m and were cut into the gray-white nummulitic limestone of the mountain.
Looking north along the range of rock-cut tombs at Beni Hassan. There are thirty-nine tombs in total, numbered from north to south, and the tomb in the foreground is Tomb 31.
The Beni Hassan in Late Antquity Project wishes to acknowledge the continuing support of DePaul University through the
Department of History, College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, University Research Council, and Vincentian Endowment Fund.