Vertical tabsMonastery name, type, categorySite Name: Bir el-Wa'arIdentification: Bir el-Wa'ar has been accepted as the site of the Nea Laura (New Laura) built by dissident monks from the Great Laura of Sabas in 507 CE (V. Sab 3b [ed. Schwartz]). Later, Sabas built the church of the laura. The identification was proposed by Hirschfeld based on location and the finds of the survey. Other sites had been proposed for the identification of the New Laura. These included Qasr Ab Leimun (Marcoff and Chitty 1929), Kh. et-Tina (Corbo 1962) and Qasr el-'Abed (Bagatti 1968)Monastery name: NEA LAURAMonastery type: LauraMonastery category: Desert LocationCoordinates, ITM system: 219,781.00620,515.00 Coordinates, ICS system: 169,777.00120,525.00 Geographical region: Judean Desert fringesProvincial affiliation: Palaestina IBishopric: JerusalemTopographical location: Steep slope/ cliffSoils: Rocky limestoneDistance from nearest bishop-seat: 20 km (Jerusalem)Distance from nearest settlement: 4 km (Tekoa)Distance from Roman roads: 1 km west of the road leading from Jerusalem to En Guedi. Source of knowledgeHideLiterary sources Text number Summary 1 Mention of John, future abbot of the Nea Laura, among the disciples of Sabas, AD 483. 2 Rebellion against Sabas and the founding of the New Laura, AD 506. 3 Struggles between the Origenists and their opposers in the Great Laura, ca. AD 537. 4 Decree of the Oecumenical Council at Constantinople and the expulsion of the Origenists from the monasteries, AD 554. 5 By order of Justin II, the heretic Conon is entrusted to Photius the archimandrite of the New Laura, AD 570s. 6 Story of an angel guarding the altar of the church, from an early 7th cent. collection. Archaeological remainsSurveyed siteSurveyors: NameDate Hirschfeld 1984 Bibliograpy: Marcoff, M. and Chitty, D. J., 1929167-78 Corbo, V. C., 1962109-13 Hirschfeld, Y., 1985 Hirschfeld, Y., 1987188-91 Hirschfeld, Y., 199036-8 Hirschfeld, Y., 1992 Tsafrir, Y., Di Segni, L. and Green, J., 199490 Patrich, J., 1995107-10 Hirschfeld, Y., 1995267-80 Hirschfeld, Y., 2001323-45 Di Segni, L., 2005170-72 Magen, Y. and Kagan, E. D., 2012165 Abbreviation for Journals and SeriesState of certainty: Archaeologically and Literarily definitive General descriptionState of preservation/which parts were uncovered: More than forty monastic cells were identified in the survey. Some of the retaining walls remain to a height of three meters.The core structures stand on the northern bank of the wadi and are divided into two separate compounds: a church compound on the eastern side, and a domestic compound.The church, in the laura's core is in a poor state of preservation. Illustrative material: Illustrative_material Photos Figures General descriptionPaths: Two paths lead to the site. The major approach was from Tekoa in the north. Sections of paving and retaining walls have been found along its course. The second path led from the west. Courtyards: A courtyard (10 x 20 m) is located in the core of the laura, in front of the church. The courtyard is supported by retaining walls some of which remain to a height of three meters. The courtyard is paved with a coarse white mosaic and remains of a number of structures stand on its eastern side. The church is in the southwestern corner. A second courtyard (10 x 6 m) is nearby, surrounded by dwelling cells and other structures. Churche/s: The façade of the church faces south and retaining walls create a courtyard (10 x 20 m) in front of it. The church is a small chapel. Roof tiles indicative of its gabled roof and fragments of marble tiles from an opus sectile pavement were found scattered around the church and its stone paved floor. A marble column base, from an altar table, and a fragment of marble chancel screen post were found in the debris of the church. Dwellings: Forty dwelling cells were identified, the largest concentration of which is around the core. The cells possess three major components: a small dwelling, a cistern and a garden plot. The average size of the surveyed cells is 28.38 m2, the largest (no. 8) being 56.2 m2 and the smallest (no. 11), 8.4 m2. The average living area in each cell was 20 m2. They are typically small and simple. The average distance between cells is 35 m. Five dwelling cells, averaging 3 x 5 m, of irregular shape, are located in the church area. These were probably the living quarters of the monks who were responsible for the church and perhaps those of the abbot. According to Cyril of Scythopolis, the building of the New Laura took five months, this seems to fit in well with the simplicity of the complex. Storage facilities: The domestic complex is some 120 m west of the church compound. To the west of the courtyard there is a well-built rectangular room (5.6 x 7.3 m) and to the east of this structure three additional rooms in a row (5.6 x 12.8 m). These rooms housed the bakery, pantries and storerooms for equipment and raw materials and may also have served for crafts such as basket weaving. It has been suggested that one of the rooms may have served as the living quarters of the Oikomenos. Baking oven: (see above, Storage facilities) Water installations: East of the domestic area there is a rock cut reservoir (Bir el-Wa’ar). The reservoir measures 7.5 x 9 m and about 8 m. deep, with a capacity of nearly 500 m3. The cisterns in the dwellings were fed by drains and channels from the roofs of the cells. A reservoir (7 x 11 m) is located near the large garden plot, its water probably used for irrigation. Cisterns are also located near the domestic complex. Garden: Two garden plots were identified in the wadi below the domestic compound. The one is 280 m2, the other is larger (3,000 m2) and is surrounded by a stone wall. Adjacent to the wall there is a reservoir (7 x 11 m), the waters of which were used for irrigation. Other garden plots were found adjacent to the dwelling cells. The sizes of the plots are between 30 and 3,000 m2. Agricultural and industrial installations: A wine press was found close to cell no. 11. Small findsSmall finds: CategoryDescription OtherFragments of roof tiles Detailed descriptionDimensions: Total area (sqm)Size class 600,000Large StructureMaterials applied (walls): LimestoneMaterials applied (roofing): tiles ComponentsCourtyard/sMonastery church: Church typeDiakonikonLink to church sectionChurch location single naveGround floor Dwelling type: cellsStorage facilities – warehousesBuilt pathsRetaining wallsGardenAgricultural installations: wine press\es [=w/p]Water installations: CisternsChannelsGutters0 Architectural evolutionPhase 1 Phase 2 Abandonment General outline: Some cells were constructed by monks who supported the anti-Chalcedonians. No date is provided but it was earlier than 507 CE.Dating material: Based on the account of Cyril of Scythopolis (V. Sab. 3b[Schwartz 123-4]). Phase dateCentury: 6th c.Within century: Early General outline: The church was consecrated by Sabas in 507 CE. The laura, consisting of a core and cells, existed until it was abandoned in the Early Islamic period.Dating material: Literary (see Literary Sources). All the finds were dated to the Byzantine period. Phase dateCentury: 6th c.Within century: Early General outline: First half of the seventh century.Phase dateCentury: 7th c.Within century: First half Post Arab conquest history: AbandonedPost conquest history comments: No additions were made to the laura in any period following the Arab conquest. It is an example of a laura in its "pure" Byzantine form (Hirschfeld 1990: 38).