Deir el-Hagar, the “Monastery of Stone”, is a sandstone temple on the western edge of Dakhla Oasis, about 10 kilometers away Al Qasr the capital of Bahareya Oasis. It is a Roman temple and one of the smallest temples in Egypt. The structure buried beneath the sand for centuries and this has in effect helped to preserve it. It was restored by the Dakhla Oasis Project with the Supreme Council of Antiquities.
Its ancient name was Setweh or Place of Coming Home.
It’s known as Monastery because in later times, it was converted into a monastery.
It was dedicated mainly to the Theban Triad Amon-Re, Mut and Khonso and to Seth, who was the principle god of the Oasis. construction of the temple began during the reign of the Roman Emperor Nero, whose cartouche can be seen in the sanctuary. It was built to encourage farmers to settle in the area.
Roman Emperor Vespasian added decoration to the sanctuary, and then Titus added the porch and finally Domitian. Other Roman rulers have decorated the temple, with the latest inscription in the temple dating to the 3rd century AD.
The temple has a well-preserved. The main gateway is in the eastern side of the enclosure wall, while another gateway to the south.
In the temenos wall of the sanctuary, depicts many Greek inscriptions and graffito written by early travelers who wanted to record their visits to this sacred place.
On a column in the columned hall, are the incised names of the ill-fated expedition led by Gerhardt Rohlfs in January 1874. This expedition travelled to the west of Dakhla into the Great Sand Sea but they had not anticipated the size and extent of the huge sand dunes. After three days they had to turn back and take a more northerly route to Siwa. Also in 1874 Remale cleared sand from the sanctuary. In 1908 Winlock published the first extensive description of the temple and during the 1960s, Ahmed Fakhry excavated in front of the porch.
The entrance leads to the pronaos which has 2 columns. A doorway leads to a small hypostyle hall containing four columns which in turn opens into a hall of offerings before the central sanctuary.
The sanctuary is flanked by two side-chambers – to the south is the staircase which would have given access to the roof and to the north a storage chamber.
The ceiling of the sanctuary was decorated with astronomical scenes dating to the rule of Hadrian, there are representations of goddess Nut (the goddess of Sky) and god Geb (god of earth) and many deities were depicted.