On the great Roman sites, there is a succeeding Christian
Period which simply involves a switch from pagan worship to
early Christian ritual.
The day-to-day language was Coptic, the latest form of the
ancient Egyptian language, although Greek was used for administration
and commerce. The oasis population apparently decreased, perhaps
because many oasis settlers returned to their Nile Valley
origins when the Roman trade empire broke up.
Ismant el-Kharab: the large East Church before excavation. Subsequent work has dated the church to mid-Fourth Century
Textual references allude to a well organized religious community,
including a bishop, deacons, and monks and we know of five
churches. There are almost certainly, several more. In this
period there were also Manichaeans at Ismant
el-Kharab, living side by side with pagans and Christians
and together making a very interesting grouping.
Culturally and physically the three are so far indistinguishable,
making it difficult to identify their presence in an archaeological