The Monastery of Apa Apollos at Bawit (founded in the late 4th c.) was one of the most important monastic centres in Byzantine and early Islamic Egypt. The rich literary, archaeological, and documentary evidence of the site provides extraordinary glimpses into the everyday life of a late antique monastery. The ample papyrological documentation offers insights into the complex economical activities of the monastery: It seems that the monastery was an important economic centre in the countryside. However, the majority of published documents comes from the Islamic period and much fewer papyri and ostraca predate the Arab conquest. In this paper, I am going to assess the papyrological evidence of Bawit. What inferences can we make about the Byzantine period based on 7-8th c. evidence? Is the disproportionate survival of papyrological evidence over time and the change of documentary patterns only caused by archaeological factors or also by transformations in the economy and organisation of the monastery?
The Economy of the Apa Apollos Monastery at Bawit in the Byzantine Period