Coordinates: 25°30′57″N 29°05′44″E / 25.51583°N 29.09556°E / 25.51583; 29.09556
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Ancient Kellis

Ancient Kellis, now known as Ismant el-Kharab ('Ismant the ruined' in Arabic), was a village in Upper Egypt during the Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine periods. It was located about 2.5 kilometers (1.6 mi) east-southeast of present-day Ismant in the Dakhleh Oasis, and about 11 kilometers (6.8 mi) northeast of Mut (more fully Mut el-Kharab), which is the capital of the oasis.[1][2] In ancient times, Mut was called Mothis, and thus Kellis was in the Mothite nome.[3]


The village was 1,050 meters (3,440 ft) long and 650 meters (2,130 ft) wide, built almost entirely of mud brick on a low terrace with wadis to the southeast and northwest, and surrounded by fields.[4] Small businesses included weaving, handcrafted pottery and blacksmithing. Attractions in Kellis included the Temple of Tutu and three churches; the Small East Church is the oldest known church building in Egypt. The site was occupied from the late Ptolemaic Period, was abandoned sometime after the year 392, and has remained unoccupied since then, except for a time in the 1940s, when some Bedouin camped there.[5][6] Many buildings are buried beneath the sand. The tops of some are visible from the surface; others are hidden, waiting to collapse as an unwary tourist crosses.


Archaeological exploration of Kellis began in 1986.[7] Since 1991 the Kellis excavations have been funded by the Australian Research Council, administered by Monash University.[8] Thousands of writing fragments have been unearthed at Kellis, many pertaining to Manichaeism, whose adherents at Kellis apparently lived alongside Christians in ancient times.[9][10] Archeologists at Kellis have also found wooden books, glass vessels, tools, other domestic items, as well as cemeteries[11][12] with mummies[13] covered with masks[5][14] and other cartonnage elements.[15][16]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Teigen, Håkon Fiane (2021). The Manichaean church in Kellis. Nag Hammadi and Manichaean Studies. Vol. 100. Leiden: Brill. ISBN 978-90-04-45977-9. OCLC 1240264765.
  • Brand, Mattias (2022). Religion and the Everyday Life of Manichaeans in Kellis: Beyond Light and Darkness. Nag Hammadi and Manichaean Studies. Vol. 102. Leiden: Brill. ISBN 978-90-04-51029-6.

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Wagner, G. and Aravecchia, Nicola. "Kellis", Pleiades (2010).
  2. ^ Hope, Colin A.; Bowen, Gillian E., eds. (2022). Kellis: A Roman-Period Village in Egypt's Dakhleh Oasis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/9780511844362. ISBN 978-0-521-19032-9.
  3. ^ "Ismant el-Kharab, ancient Kellis" Archived 2008-07-29 at the Wayback Machine, Monash University.
  4. ^ Knudstad, J. E & R.A. Frey 1999, "Kellis, the Archaeological Survey of the Romano-Byzantine Town at Ismant el-Kharab", Reports from the Survey of the Dakhleh Oasis 1977-1987, C.S. Churcher and A.J. Mills eds, pages 95–96, Oxbow Books: Oxford.
  5. ^ a b Schweitzer, A. 2002, "Les parures des cartonnage des momies d’une nécrople d’Ismant el-Kharab", Dakhleh Oasis Project: Preliminary Reports on the 1994-1995 to 1998-1998 Field Seasons, C.A. Hope & G.E. Bowen eds., page 270, Oxbow Books: Oxford.
  6. ^ Hope, C.A. 2002 "Excavations in the Settlement of Ismant el-Kharab in 1995-1999", Dakhleh Oasis Project: Preliminary Reports on the 1994-1995 to 1998-1998 Field Seasons, C.A. Hope & G.E. Bowen eds., pages 205–206, Oxbow Books: Oxford.
  7. ^ Hope, C. A., 1988, "Three Seasons of Excavation at Ismant el-Gharab in Dakhleh Oasis, Egypt", Mediterranean Archaeology, vol. 1, pp. 160–178.
  8. ^ "Egypt - Rare Books Exhibition". 1998-10-02. Archived from the original on 2010-12-11. Retrieved 2011-01-14.
  9. ^ Teigen, Håkon (2021). The Manichaean church in Kellis. Leiden: Brill. ISBN 978-90-04-45977-9. OCLC 1240264765.
  10. ^ Sami, Mariam. "Illuminating an Ancient Emissary of Light", Los Angeles Times (1998-10-04).
  11. ^ Hope, Colin A.; Mckenzie, Judith; Rindi Nuzzolo, Carlo (2022-01-13), Hope, Colin A.; Bowen, Gillian E. (eds.), "The Traditional Cemeteries of Kellis", Kellis (1 ed.), Cambridge University Press, pp. 307–342, doi:10.1017/9780511844362.017, ISBN 978-0-511-84436-2, retrieved 2022-02-18
  12. ^ Bowen, Gillian E. (2022-01-13), Hope, Colin A.; Bowen, Gillian E. (eds.), "Christian Burial Practices", Kellis (1 ed.), Cambridge University Press, pp. 343–366, doi:10.1017/9780511844362.018, ISBN 978-0-511-84436-2, retrieved 2022-02-18
  13. ^ "Ismant el-Kharab, ancient Kellis" Archived 2010-01-01 at the Wayback Machine, Dakhleh Trust
  14. ^ Rindi Nuzzolo, Carlo. The Cartonnage from Kellis (Ismant al-Kharab, Dakhleh Oasis): a study in Regionalism and Craftsmanship (thesis thesis). Monash University. doi:10.26180/5ca6c9fd1dc0f.
  15. ^ Rindi Nuzzolo, Carlo, 2017 "Graeco-Roman cartonnage from the Kellis 1 cemetery (Ismant el-Kharab - Dakhleh Oasis): the case of Tombs 10 and 25." In Burial and mortuary practices in late period and Graeco-Roman Egypt : proceedings of the International Conference held at Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest, 17-19 July 2014, Ed. Katalin Anna Kóthay, 307-311, pls. 70-72. Budapest: Museum of Fine Arts. DOI:10.26180/7835480.v1
  16. ^ Rindi Nuzzolo, Carlo, 2020 "Broken faces: investigating evidence of regionalism in mummy mask fragments from the Kellis 1 cemetery", Dust, Demons and Pots Studies in Honour of Colin A. Hope, Peeters: Leuven. DOI:10.2307/j.ctv1q26ngg.53

External links[edit]

25°30′57″N 29°05′44″E / 25.51583°N 29.09556°E / 25.51583; 29.09556