Nitria and Scetis: H. G. Evelyn White,The Monasteries of the Wadi ‘N Natrun

by abirdinthebanksia

Alin Suciu

The valuable Syriac documents which came from the Monastery of the Virgin in the Wadi el-Natrun, are still labeled sometimes as “Nitrian.” Similarly, the dialect of the Coptic manuscripts from St. Macarius’ Monastery, situated in the same desert, is called “Nitrian Bohairic.” This label seems to imply that the two monasteries are located in the desert of Nitria.

However, neither the Monastery of the Syrians, nor that of St. Macarius is situated there! The assumption that Nitria and Wadi el-Natrun would be one and the same place is wrong, being based on a topographical confusion.

The ancient name of the Natron Valley, the source of the documents mentioned above, was “Scetis.” While the first community in Nitria goes back to Amoun, the founder of Scetis was Macarius the Egyptian. These two settlements, along with Kellia, formed the three important monastic communities situated to the West of the Nile Delta.


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