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DIONYSIAS (Qasr Qarûn) Egypt.

About 42 km NW of Medinet El-Faiyûm. Originally on the SW shore of Lake Moeris (now Qarûn), it is now in the desert since the lake has receded ca. 4 km NW. Because of a Roman fortress here, the site has been identified with the Dionysias noted by Ptolemy the Geographer (A.D. 90-168). It is the Dionisiada of the Notitia Dignitatum, which enumerates the Roman garrisons at the time of Valentinian III (A.D. 425-55). Dionysias is also well known through the Archive of Flavius Abbinaeus of the 4th c.

During the late Ptolemaic period a temple, still extant, was dedicated to Sobek, the crocodile god of the Arsinoite nome. Another temple, dedicated to a certain war god, was near a public bath. Excavations have yielded a number of objects related to the side activities of the military community of the garrison. Most interesting is a collection of 15,000 molds datable to A.D. 315 and probably used in the forgery of coins. Of interest also are the 4th c. Christian symbols influenced by pagan frescos.

The site is scattered with broken glass, potsherds, terracotta fragments, bricks, and blocks of stone. The fortress (94 x 81 m), datable to the reign of Diocletian, occupies the NW part of the area. It was built of burnt bricks. At each of the four corners stands a tower (8.2 x 9.5 m) and the wall is further fortified by five smaller towers. The thickness of the walls is 4.1 m. The only access to the interior of the fortress was through a stone entrance built into the N wall and closed by a wooden door. The central part, of basilican form, leads from the door to a raised platform reached by a stone stair. Near the end stood a statue of Tyche. To the W of the fortress is the Roman temple built of bricks and decorated inside with engaged columns. Its sanctuary has the form of an apse with a vaulted roof. A funerary chapel 40 m to the W was apparently surrounded with columns. The earliest building in the area, a late Ptolemaic temple (28 x 19 m) occupies the E quarter of the site. The sanctuary, which is divided into three small chapels, is approached through a court and a corridor flanked on both sides by 14 rooms. There is also an upper floor with many rooms.


J. Schwartz & H. Wild, Qasr Qârûn/Dionysias, publications of the Institut français d'Archéologie orientale du Caire (1950) 4, VIIIMPI; Schwartz et al., Qa[sdot ]r-Qarūn/Dionysias 1950. Fouilles Franco-Suisses. Rapports II (1969); E. Brunner-Traut & V. Hell, Aegypten (1966) 490.


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