Beni Hassan el-Qadim
Approximately 500 m to the south of the Beni Hassan necropolis are the ruins of a town known as Beni Hassan el-Qadim, which the team investigated in 2014 and 2015. The aim was to determine whether the town possibly dated back to the time when Christian monks inhabited the necropolis. Early visitors to the site give conflicting accounts of why the town was abandoned and date its abandonment to the Late Ottoman Period. Based upon the remains of the various mudbrick buildings, the town covered an area of approximately 7-8 ha. The satellite image below shows the northern part of the town, the limit of which is defined by a wadi of approximately 20 m in width and a tower located to the immediate south of the wadi. A survey of the surface pottery, as well as the identification of one of the buildings as a mosque, suggests that this town post-dated the monastic settlement in the necropolis. There are some dipinti in what appear to be cellars of residential buildings, but they have no affinity to the Coptic dipinti seen in the necropolis.
Wadi and remains of tower, looking south towards town
Remains of mosque, looking southeast. Identified by our team member, Mr. Alaa Fathy ibn Mohammed. The mosque's mihrab and minbar can be seen on the long wall. Surviving portion of minaret is visible on the left. Photo by Michael Jones.
Sampling of the surface pottery observed and recorded at the site. On the whole, the ceramic assemblage is remarkably different than what the team observed in the Batn al-Baqara and above the Beni Hassan necropolis. The glazed ware (a) is highly characteristic of medieval Islamic period assemblages, and the rather unique carinated bowls (b), which Michael Jones first documented in the 1980s, are most likely also medieval in date. Pottery with cream slip and cross-line decoration, similar to (c) and (d), have been documented in 18th century contexts, but further study of the Beni Hassan el-Qadim samples would be necessary to establish their typological and chronological affinites.
View of Beni Hassan el-Qadim, looking northwest. Photo by Michael Jones.
Dome-roofed cellar, now partially exposed.
The dipinti documented inside a number of these cellars were quite different in character from their monastic counterparts seen in the necropolis and Batn al-Baqara.
The oblique cross dipinti are similar to the painted decorations seen on some of the surface pottery (below).