Christianity in the Oasis

Dakhleh residents converted from Egyptian-Roman pagan traditions to Christianity in the 3rd and 4th centuries A.D. according to evidence discovered at the town site at Kellis.  The earliest known liturgy is a large fragment from the Acts of St.John found there  and three small Kellis churches may be the earliest extant purpose-built churches in the world.  A rich archive of wooden texts and papyri details an elaborate hierarchy, including a bishop, priests, deacons and monastic settlements.  Smaller settlements, including several churches, scattered across the oasis tell of a wide-spread community.

The apse of the northern cemetery church.
The ruins of the brick church at Deir Abu Metta.
Deir Abu Metta under excavation.
Specialists Gillian Bowen and Olaf Kaper at Kellis inspecting a church.
Kellis, the Basilica or main church under excavation.
Kellis earliest church copying apsidal frescoes.
Kellis, earliest church excavated.
Deir el-Molouk, a nine-domed church
Deir Abu Metta, part of the adjacent village.
Deir Abu Metta, excavating areas close to the church.
The crew, early morning at Deir Abu Metta.
On plaster, a painted cross and diadem.
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