Friday, 13 October 2006

Bode Museum reopens next week

"One of Berlin's great museums from the age of the kaisers, full of Byzantine, medieval and renaissance sculptures, is to reopen next week after eight years of closure and millions of euros of refurbishment. The Bode Museum is one of five monumental treasure-houses on the German capital's Island of Museums." Bode museum houses one of world's top collections of late Coptic art.

Tuesday, 3 October 2006

Book Review: Cairo illustrated

"With too much text to be called a pictorial guide, too much history to be a guide book and too much of the modern to be an illustrated history, Michael Haag’s Cairo Illustrated is in a category of its own. The book begins with an outline of the events and people that have shaped Cairo since around 3000 BC. By the end of the book, just over 90 pages later, the reader has been whisked through more than 5,000 years of the city’s history. The author leapfrogs around the city and its history, starting his first chapter in Coptic Cairo and winding a circuitous route to the Great Pyramids of Giza."

Sunday, 24 September 2006

Coptic era discoveries (

"While carrying out a survey on the archaeological valleys and hills on Luxor's West Bank, in an attempt to locate sites used by the Copts, an archaeological mission of the French Institute for Oriental Studies has unearthed a significant number of clay sherds dating back to the Coptic era (451 - 641 AD). . . . In Haggag Valley Aspaniya, the team succeeded in locating six Coptic archaeological sites, one of which includes a cave with bent corridors covered with gypsum and bearing Coptic inscriptions."

See the above page for the full story.

Thursday, 29 June 2006

Coptic treasures get the home they deserve

Al Ahram Weekly by Nevine El-Aref

Mogamaa Al-Adian, Old Cairo's religious compound, is finally free of the roar of trucks and lorries that have blocked the entrance to the Coptic Museum for three years now. And the museum itself, with its limestone fa├žade loosely based on the Al-Aqmar Mosque, has finally opened its doors to visitors in an area the attractions of which include the Mosque of Amr Ibn Al-Aas, the Hanging Church and the Synagogue of Beni-Ezra.

On Monday President Hosni Mubarak formally opened the museum during a ceremony attended by Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif and scores of Egyptian ministers and senior government officials. The president was guided through the museum's 26 galleries, containing 13,000 items, by Culture Minister Farouk Hosni and Supreme Council of Antiquities' Secretary-General Zahi Hawass. They also watched a 15-minute documentary film on the restoration of the museum.

"The restoration of the Coptic Museum was an ambitious project," says Hosni. "It is one of Cairo's oldest museums and its restoration is an illustration of the government's commitment to preserving the nation's Coptic, as well as its Pharaonic and Islamic, heritage."

See the above page for the full story.

Tuesday, 27 June 2006

Mubarak inaugurates refurbished Coptic Museum

"In his address during the opening ceremony, Minister of Culture Farouq Hosni said the Coptic Museum is one of Egypt's most important museums as it houses a huge collection of artefacts dating to the Coptic era.

President Mubarak watched a documentary on the restoration of the museum and the methods of display of 1,300 items in 26 halls. Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) Zahi Hawass said during a tour of the museum by the President that the restoration project included the addition of a new hall devoted to the history of churches in Old Cairo. A hall for temporary exhibitions has also been built, Hawass added. The restoration project, which was carried out by a group of Egyptian experts, began in 2003, Hawass said.. . . . President Mubarak heard a presentation by Ezzat Naguib, director general for restoration works on the Coptic Museum on manuscripts in the museum. The manuscripts, of which some date back to the 4th century AD, including 13 bibles and several exhibits obtained from monasteries in Egypt. . . . Head of the icons section Mervat Megalli briefed President Mubarak on the icon exhibits that range between 300 and 600 years old. Most of the icons are of the Virgin Mary, Christ and a number of saints."

See the above page for full details - please note that the page will be changing shortly.

Thursday, 25 May 2006

A tapestry of Coptic history

Al Ahram Weekly by Jill Kamil

An attractive publication with a somewhat formidable title draws Jill Kamil 's attention to a worthy source on textiles, one of the finest of all Coptic arts.

The Coptic Tapestry Albums and the Archaeologist of Antino‘, Albert Gayet, is the lengthy title of a new book by Nancy Arthur Hoskins, who has researched Coptic collections in more than 50 museums around the world and who has produced a book that is a delight to handle and read. Here, at last, is a publication on Coptic textiles that is well-researched and illustrated with photographs in vibrant colour, along with detailed line drawings of weaving techniques and ancient weavers at the loom.

Thanks to Egypt's dry climate and sandy soil, textiles have survived in vast numbers and in an unrivalled state of preservation. Tens of thousands of coloured fragments found their way into the museums of the world, especially after 1889 when the French archaeologist Albert Gayet published a catalogue of Coptic art and, in the Bulaq Museum, staged the first exhibition of Coptic monuments.

"The first time I saw a Coptic tapestry portrait with its soul-searching gaze I was completely captivated," Hoskins writes in her introduction. "I felt I had connected -- through craft -- with someone from that far distant time and place. The dancers were enchanting, the angels ephemeral, the flowers ever festive, the weaving free-spirited."

Her enthusiasm subsequently inspired Hoskins, a former college weaving instructor who has published the results of her research in more than 50 professional journals, to examine Coptic collections in museums in the United States as well as the Coptic Museum in Cairo, which has the largest collection of Coptic textiles in the world. Thus began a research project that has led her to review museum collections in England, France, Portugal and Canada.

See the above page for more.

Wednesday, 1 March 2006

Coptic manuscript discovery

"A cache of manuscripts up to 1,500 years old has been discovered in a Coptic monastery in the Western Desert of Egypt. The find was made at Deir al-Surian, the Monastery of the Syrians, which already has one of the richest ancient libraries in Christendom. Set in the desert sands and virtually cut off from the outside world until recently, Deir al-Surian traces its roots back to the earliest period of Christian monasticism. Established in the 6th century, it was soon occupied by monks from Syria and Mesopotamia and is currently home to 200 Egyptian Copts."

See the full story on the above web page.

Friday, 24 February 2006

Third Symposium on Coptic Studies

There's a good summary on the Al Ahram website of the recent coptic conference in at the White Monastery of St Shenoude near Sohag:

" The symposium at the White Monastery, which concentrated on a single Upper Egyptian monk who became abbot of two monasteries, played an important part in the history of Christendom, and reputedly lived to the ripe age 118 (an age that Emmel considers entirely possible), drew together scholars from as far afield as Australia and Canada. It caused a stir among the population of Sohag that will long be remembered. Already other bishoprics in Middle and Upper Egypt have expressed a desire to host the next symposium in two years' time, and it seems that Nagada, between Qena and Luxor, is high on the list of possibilities."