Monks across the desert. Hermitic life in Christian Petra


  • Andrea Vanni Desideri University of Florence
  • Silvia Leporatti University of Florence



Petra, Christian period, hermitages, survey


Monks across the desert. Hermitic life in Christian Petra

A new interpretation of the pre-Crusader phase of the site follows from the identification of a pre-Crusader rock-cut chapel. In particular, in early mediaeval time, a monastic community at al-Wu’ayra and a number of hermitic cells surrounding a central fortified coenobium preceded the later military castle keep. The Crusaders profited by the presence of a Christian fortified settlement, easy to transform into a military installation by a simple addition of a number of buildings, which are identifiable by a chrono-typology of building techniques.The new program of research which started in 2017 aims at registering, surveying, and studying various hermitic installations around the perimeter of the town in order to contextualize this early medieval phase of al-Wu’ayrain the topography of Petra and contribute to the knowledge of a ‘minor’and underestimated aspect of the town in early Christian time.  In fact, these monastic-hermitic settlements located in segregated spots of the peri-urbanarea, surviving the abandonment of the major churches of the town, can help to understand in a more realistic way the articulated forms of Christian presence and its duration until the late 19th century.


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How to Cite

Desideri, Andrea Vanni, and Silvia Leporatti. 2020. “Monks across the Desert. Hermitic Life in Christian Petra”. Studies in Ancient Art and Civilisation 24 (December):133-43.