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January 30, 2016

Tomb of shenoutex.PNG

In 2002, a funerary chapel at the White Monastery was discovered. Structurally it is triconch, meaning that it is composed of a central core to which three apses (conches) are attached on three sides. An opening in the floor of the nave leads, through a passageway, to two small subterranean chambers (antechamber and burial chamber), which are all barrel-vaulted, and whose walls are decorated with a stunningly well-preserved paintings of gemmed crosses, deer, gazelles, eagles, and peacocks, in a restrained palette consisting of ochre, light yellow, rose, cream, pale green, blue, and black.

The barrel-vaulted tomb chamber is rectangular, and its murals have survived almost completely intact. Its fine state of preservation and traces of mortar at its threshold indicate that this interior space was sealed after the interment of the deceased. But at the time of excavation in 2002 the tomb no longer contained any human remains. The tomb was almost certainly built and decorated for St. Shenoute, who died in 465. Above the figures, a painted Greek inscription, “The (holy) shrine of Abba Shenoute the Archimandrite”, identifies the central figure as Shenoute. In architectural type and the iconography of the paintings it fits a late antique type of tomb found elsewhere in the eastern Mediterranean.[1]

The professional photographer matjaz kacicnik has created a 360-degree by his spherical camera, and by clicking on the links below you can access them:

The tomb of St. Shenoute of Atripe, White Monastery, Sohag, Egypt

The first chamber of the tomb of St. Shenoute of Atripe, White Monastery, Sohag, Egypt

Elizabeth Bolman is the director of the St. Shenouda Tomb Project. She, with others, wrote two important articles about the discovery, which the reader can access below (you will need Academia account):

  1. Elizabeth S. Bolman et all, Shenoute and a Recently Discovered Tomb Chapel at the White Monastery, Journal of Early Christian Studies, Volume 18, Number 3, Fall 2010, pp. 453-462.
  2. The Tomb of St. Shenoute? More Results from the White Monastery (Dayr Anba Shenouda), Sohag,” with: Elizabeth S. Bolman et al. Bulletin of the American Research Center in Egypt, v. 198 (2011) 31- 38.



[1] Information taken from the American Research Center in Egypt (AECE), with some amendment. Elizabeth Bolman is the director of the tomb project, and Luigi De Cesaris, Alberto Sucato and Emiliano Ricchi directed the specialized work of conservation.

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