The monastery of Anba Hadra is one of the best-preserved monasteries of Egypt and is situated on the west bank of the Nile opposite of modern Aswan. Two main corpora of Coptic inscriptions were found in the monastic precinct which provide information about the monastery’s building history, the religious beliefs of the Copts, the daily life in a monastery in southern Egypt and the use of the Coptic language: funerary stelae as well as graffiti and dipinti. Furthermore, some ostraca and fragments of papyri and parchment came to light during previous excavations but are lost today.


Based on the publications of the excavations undertaken at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries, all Coptic inscriptions published so far have been collected. On site, the already published inscriptions and more than 200 new inscriptions were documented. They were copied, collated, measured, photographed and described in detail. Moreover, Lena Krastel searched for unpublished material like notebooks, photographs, sketches and plans of previous excavators and travelers in different archives and museums. The results have been integrated in a catalogue which not only lists all Coptic inscriptions which could be found in the monastic precinct of Deir Anba Hadra but also provides a basis for the analysis of these inscriptions.

143 sandstone stelae with funerary inscriptions were found in the monastic precinct, 141 during the above mentioned excavations, and two fragments came to light during the excavations of the Deir Anba Hadra project in autumn 2016. More than 90% of these stelae show an identical formulary, which contains the name of the deceased and their date of death. According to the dates, the owners – mostly monks – died during the 7th and the 9th centuries, just one stela was produced in the 10th century AD.

From the second half of the 10th century onwards, about 300 Coptic graffiti and dipinti are traceable on the plaster layers of the walls, especially in the monastic church and the qasr. Like the stelae, most graffiti and dipinti also follow a uniform model, which is composed of a self-description, a prayer and optionally a date and/or a confirmation. Beside these standard inscriptions there also some commemorative inscriptions, one table with numerals, an inscription which records hours and occasions and a dipinto which mentions an unknown historical event. 29 Coptic inscriptions are dated. The oldest dipinto was written in 956 AD, the youngest in the year 1404 AD. This latest inscription is one of the youngest Sahidic Coptic inscriptions in Egypt discovered so far.

This Ph.D. thesis is being written within the program “Ancient Languages and Texts” (ALT) of the Berlin Graduate School of Ancient Studies (BerGSAS)