Robert B. J. Mason

Near and Middle-Eastern Civilizations (NMC)
University of Toronto

University of Toronto - Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations - Mason Home - Unnofficial Mason - Royal Ontario Museum

People at Deir Mar Musa al-Habashi

Members of the community, members of the project

The monastic community at Deir Mar Musa al-Habashi comprises male and female members. Fr. Paolo D'Oglio is the founder and leader of the community. He first travelled to the Middle East in 1977, and as a young Jesuit priest first stumbled upon the ruins of the then abandoned monastery of St. Moses. Fr. Jacques Mourad, a Syrian Catholic from Aleppo, is also the parish priest of Qaryatayn. Sister Huda Faddoul, from Damascus and of the Greek Catholic church, is the leader of the female community, and is supported by Deema Fayyad, who is still a novice, and is also Greek Catholic, but from Homs. A new novice is Khouloud Marmari with a Syrian Orthodox/Catholic backround from the Wadi Nasara in Western Syria. The monastic community is rounded out by brother Boutros Abo, a deacon of the Syrian church from Hasake in Eastern Syria; brother Jihad Yusuf, a Maronite from Wadi Nasara, and brother Jens Petzold, a previously unbaptised Swiss/German, who came to the monastery as a back-packer.

Diane and Eglantine

The lay community at Deir Mar Musa al-Habashi have included a number of people that have provided help to the project. Two of these who were present in the 2005 season were Eglantine Gabaix-Hiale and Diane de Pas, who came to the monastery through 2 very similar French NGO's (Delegation Catholique pour la Cooperation and Service pour la Cooperation au Developpement), which every year send hundreds of young and less young french volunteers all over the world to work on development projects mostly, but not always, linked with the church. They could just as easily have been sent to the African countryside, or in the Bronx, or in Taiwan, but as you can see, they were happy to have arrived at Deir Mar Musa al-Habashi! Diane in particular was very helpful in the development of the ecological part of the museum/interpretive-centre project.

The archaeological and museological team is led by Robert Mason of the University of Toronto and the Royal Ontario Museum, and this is his web-site. Emma Loosley is a lecturer at the University of Manchester, and her research interests include the evolution of Christian Art, the Architecture of monasticism, Pilgrimage, cross-currents at the fringes of the Roman and Persian empires and the transition from Christian to Islamic Art. She is the director of the Dayr Mar Elian Archaeological Project, a monastery linked to Deir Mar Musa. It was Emma that brought Mason to Deir Mar Musa al-Habashi in the first place. In the 2005 season, Mason and Loosley were joined by Jovanna Scorsone of the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, whose knowledge of museology contributed to the preliminary plans for the proposed museum.

Sister Huda (left), Jovanna Scorsone, Fr. Paolo, and Robert Mason

Deir Mar Musa al-Habashi
Home page for the project

Survey and excavations in the area of the monastery.

Members of the community, members of the project

Museum & Interpretive Centre
Planning a new facility to house the finds, and an interpretive centre
Objects from the restoration of the monastery to be exhibited in the museum

Natural history component of the planned museum

Church Frescoes
Medieval wall paintings, and their recreation in the museum

Emma Loosley (left), with Brother Jihad and novice Deema, 2004 season

Fr. Paolo, 2004 season

Fr. Jacques and Emma Loosley, 2005 season (photo courtesy Jovanna Scorsone)

Br. Jens, a brief rest during archaeological reconnaissance, 2005 season (photo courtesy Jovanna Scorsone)

Brother Boutros and Robert Mason, 2004 season

Brother Jihad, 2004 season

University of Toronto - Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations - Mason Home - Unnofficial Mason - Royal Ontario Museum