Byzantine; Said to be from the Monastery of Apa Jeremias, Saqqara (found in the neighboring village of Mitrahina)
Limestone; 8 7/8 x 38 1/4 x 4 in. (22.5 x 97.2 x 10.2 cm)
Inscribed in Coptic: O Father, O Son, O Holy Spirit, the Holy Mary, the Holy Michael, the Holy Gabriel, our Father Apa Jeremias, Apa Enoch, Apa Ambrosius, Apa Hor, Ama Sibylla, the Papa Jeremias, their Son. Amen
Rogers Fund, 1910 (10.176.37)
In the 500s, Apa (Father) Jeremias founded a Coptic monastery at Saqqara, the ancient Egyptian necropolis (cemetery) for the city of Memphis, near the oldest pyramids. He and the earliest monks lived in ancient tombs at the site. As the monastery grew, several grand churches with lavish decoration were built as well as many chapels, public buildings, and multi-unit complexes of cells (rooms) for individual monks. The monastery continued to grow after the Arab conquest, with materials from Early Byzantine tomb structures being reused for additional monastic structures. Inscriptions record prayers to numerous holy figures. Sculptural elements from Saqqara often are carved with deeply cut, stylized patterns to intensify the play of light and shadow and mask the solidity of the architecture, a style popular throughout the Byzantine world in the 500s.