Minnesota in Egypt
|This complex had three parts.
(1) On the south, near the church of the monastery, is a hall with four interior piers. It gives entrance to
(2) a chapel with a nave, and a trefoil sanctuar. Under the nave are three underground rooms, one apparently for a burial (no body remained there). The rooms have well-presrved wall paintings. On the other side (north) of the chapel are
(3) three rooms, perhaps for more burials (see Bolman et al 2010,
(1) Left: Hall south of chapel, view facing west. Three brick piers. Entrance to the chapel was through this hall. At the upper right a pier from the nave of the chapel can be seen. Beside it are remains of a stair from the hall to an upper room.
(2) Lower Left: The funerary chapel, view facing northwest. At left are thehall stair and nave pier seen at the right of the image above. A second nave pier is aligned with it, to the right. Between the two a recent structure covers access to undeground construction. In the foreground are the remains of the trefoil sanctuary: the complete south lobe and part of the east lobe. The walls are straight on the outside, curved on the inside. There is a wedge where the walls intersect. At the right are the low remains of the northern chapel wall and walls at right angles to it.
(3) Below: Three rooms adjacent to the chapel, possibly for burials, view from west. These wals appear at the right of the image on the left. The White Monastery Church is at upper left).
Commemoration of Shenute: Archaeological evidence
The paintings in the underground rooms "evoking Paradise and Christ's triumph over death, (indicate) the function of the space as a tomb" ( Bolman et al. 2010, 455). An image of Shenute, identified by an inscription , suggests that it was his tomb, and that the whole complex commemorated his memory.
Several interim reports available online show the plan and much of the survivng paintings in this construction excavated by the SAC , then studied and conserved by YMAP.
|Commemoration of Shenute : textual evidence
A 15th to 16th century manuscript, BN Copte 68, describes a processionaal rite in honor of Shenute performed at the White Monastery. Janet Timbie first discussed it in 1998, "A Liturgical Procession in the Desert of Apa Shenoute" in Pilgrimage and Holy Space in Late Antique Egypt, ed. David Frankfurter, 415-441. Leiden. and returned to placing this activity, and locating Shenute's burial within the space of the White Monastery in 2008. "Once More into the Desert of Apa Shenute," in Christianity and Monasticism in the Region of Sohag. eds. Gawdat Gabra and Hany N. Takla.