In Bahariya Oasis, members of a Norwegian-French archaeological expedition discovered the monastic site with frescoes with Greek inscriptions, which is deemed the oldest, perhaps not only in Egypt but also all over the world.
It is a monument that has been built between the 3rd and 4th century AD in the area of Tal Ganoub Qasr al-Agouz, which is located 370 kilometers southwest of Cairo.
Excavations are being carried out there by the French institution “Institut Français d’Archéologie Orientale” (IFAO) and the Norwegian institution “MF Vitenskapelig Høyskole.”
By now, a desert skete has been excavated. The hermitage was built in five stages, from the first half of the fourth century to the seventh century.
In the center of the site, a rocky area, a church and adjacent liturgical sites have been discovered. Moreover, in the same area, two monk’s cells were discovered, a dining-kitchen and a room and four more rooms, one of which was a church.
In the later extensions, a total of 19 rooms were built and a church that was connected with two stone halls.
Many frescoes were found —and in the church— with passages in Greek referring to biblical texts, and parts of clay vases with Greek inscriptions were also found which referred to the monks, probably of the fifth or sixth century.