CAIRO – 15 May 2022: Egypt’s Minister of Tourism & Antiquities Khaled el-Enani, visited Abu Mena Heritage Site in Burj Al-Arab area in Alexandria to inspect the project to lower the level of groundwater at the site.
This is considered one of the most important projects undertaken by the ministry represented by the Supreme Council of Antiquities, and comes in addition to implementing a project to restore the monastery and develop the site as a whole.
In this context, archaeologist Abdel Rahim Rihan, director general of Archaeological Research, Studies and Scientific Publishing in South Sinai at the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, points to the importance of the Abu Mena Monastery as an exceptional global value.
It is registered as an antiquity by Resolution No. 698 of 1956 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979. Its construction dates back to the late fifth and first half of the sixth century AD. It falls 75 km west of Alexandria, 60 km south of the ancient city of Burj Al-Arab, and the site’s area is a thousand acres.
Rihan explains that the site was discovered in 1905 by the German scientist Kaufmann, then by the excavations of the Greco-Roman Museum in Alexandria from 1925 to 1929, and excavations of the Coptic Museum in Cairo from 1951 to 1952. Since 1961, the German Archaeological Institute in Cairo has started continuous excavations headed by Peter Grossmann.
Excavations at the Abu Mena Heritage Site revealed an entire city that was called the “Marble City” due to the large number of marbles in it. The excavatione also uncovered a group of churches, houses and baths.
In 2002, excavations were carried out in the huge architectural group located west of the North Hammam. Among the ruins of the Saint Mena Monastery, remains of pottery vessels of different sizes known as Saint Mena's pottery bottles were found.
The Abu Mena Monastery is considered a gathering center for Christians setting out on the holy pilgrimage to Mount Moses and Saint Catherine's Monastery. Some even head from St. Catherine's Monastery to Jerusalem. The Saint Mena Monastery itself was a destination for European pilgrims seeking blessings from the waters of St. Mena's Well.
The Coptic Museum in Egypt, the British Museum and European museums have numerous collections of the Christian pilgrims' vessels filled with water from Saint Mena. These utensils cannot stand, but must be carried by strings connecting the neck and the ears.
The South Sinai Islamic and Coptic Antiquities area has revealed a group of these pots in the area of Tell Al-Mashraba in Dahab, which was reused as a Byzantine fortress in the sixth century AD.