El-Burj - ZANNUS

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Source of knowledge
Archaeological remains
Surveyed site
According to Cyril of Scythopolis, the communal monastery was founded by two monks, Zannus and Benjamin, brothers from the region of Hebron. At first they settled as hermits at the site of Sabas' former seclusion place some 15 stadia (2.8 km) from the Great Laura, later transforming the hermitage, with Sabas' help, into a coenobium (V. Sab 42 [ed. Schwartz 132-133]).
In the Judean Desert survey, Hirschfeld identified the complex at el-Burj as the monastery of Zannus mentioned by Cyril of Scythopolis. Hirschfeld maintained that the site, located about three km northwest of Marsaba, conforms to Cyril's description, both in terms of location and in terms of the plan that is known from other monasteries. The finds that include fragments of marble, colored tesserae and pottery confirm this identification according to Hirschfeld ( 1990: 41-43, no. 26). Magen is of the opinion that neither the plan of the site nor the finds can be confidently attributed to a monastic complex. An alternative suggestion has not been offered for the nature of the site (Magen and Kagan 2012 II: 112).
State of certainty: 
Archaeologically and Literarily definitive
Architectural evolution
General outline: 
The monastery was established by two brothers, Zannus and Benjamin at a site where Sabas had built a hermitage earlier. The foundation of the monastery is dated to 511 CE.
Dating material: 


Phase date
6th c.
Within century: 
General outline: 
The remains have not been excavated. It was probably abandoned sometime in the Early Islamic period.
Phase date
7th-8th c.
Post Arab conquest history: