Friday, 29 June 2007

The Coptic museum: A silent jewel

Al Ahram Weekly by Nadja Tomoum

The Coptic Museum,situated in the heart of Old Cairo,was built in 1910 by Marcus Simaika Pasha who devoted his life to the preservation and promotion of the Coptic heritage. With the support of the Coptic church, Simaika Pasha established the Coptic Museum at a historically significant location, among some of Cairo's oldest and most important churches. According to a Biblical narration, the holy family rested in this area on their flight from the Jewish King Herod. The journey of Joseph, Mary and the infant Christ to Egypt has greatly influenced the early spread of Christianity throughout the country.

The Coptic heritage is a rather silent treasure in comparison with the splendid artefacts from the time of the great Pharaohs, and yet it is not less important and interesting. Masses of tourists are guided daily through the Egyptian museum -- Egypt's first National Museum --, whereas the Coptic museum attracts the attention of the individual tourist who enjoys the medieval flair of Old Cairo and the unique charm of the Coptic museum.

See the above page for more.If anyone is interested, I plonked a few photographs of the very beautiful Coptic monasteries of St Anthony and St Paul (Eastern Desert of Egypt) at

Sunday, 24 June 2007

Coptic Language's last survivors

Daily Star
Considered an extinct language, the Coptic language is believed to exist only in the liturgical language of the Coptic Church in Egypt. The ancient language that lost in prominence thanks largely to the Arab incursion into Egypt over 1300 years ago remains the spoken language of the church and only two families in Egypt.Coptic is a combination of the ancient Egyptian languages Demotic, Hieroglyphic and Hieratic, and was the language used by the Ptolemaic rulers of Egypt following the spread of Greek culture throughout much of the Near East. In essence, it is the language of the ancient Egyptians themselves. . . .Coptic is the language of the first Christian church in history, and when the members of the two families that speak the colloquial form of Coptic die, it will be the first language of the early Christian churches to become extinct.