Archaeologists excavating a site in the oasis of Bahariya, Egypt, have found a set of structures identified with an ancient monastery during their third season on-site.

According to the official announcement of Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, the Norwegian-French archaeological mission working in Qasr Al-Agouz in Bahariya Oasis revealed a number of buildings made of basalt stone, carved into rocks and buildings constructed of mud bricks.

Dr. Osama Talaat, head of the Islamic, Coptic, and Jewish Antiquities Sector at the Supreme Council of Antiquities, explained that the mud-brick buildings, which date back to around the fourth and seventh centuries AD, consist of six regions that include the remains of three churches and some monks’ clauses, and the walls bear scribbles and symbols bearing Coptic inscriptions.

Dr. Victor Ghica, head of the mission, said that during the current season, the mission revealed 19 rooms carved into the rock and a church that still holds its structure; attached to it there are two oblong rooms carved into the rock. The walls bear writings in yellow ink that include religious writings from the Bible in Greek, reflecting the nature of the Monastic life in the region and the monks’ staying there since the fifth century AD. The first sector of the six excavated areas is a church, its (dining hall), fountains for the residence of monks, and a number of rooms. In addition to many pieces of ostraca, many were inscribed in Greek, and date back to the fifth and sixth century AD. This discovery is very important due to the proper communication in the planning of buildings and an understanding of the formation of the first monastic congregations in Egypt in this region.