Monday, 4 February 2008

Of Fayoum's mummies and churches

eTurboNews (Hazel Heyer)

Dr. Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) announced last week a Russian-American archaeological mission has unearthed a number of well-preserved Graeco-Roman mummies covered in cartons. They made the discovery during a routine excavation work at the Deir el-Banat necropolis in Fayoum. . . .

Rather than the mummies, Fayoum may be known more for its religious history. Villages in Fayoum support previous findings about Roman persecution by Christians in Egypt. Archeological remains from this persecution are not well known but are on display. Coptic Christian crosses from this period can be found in caves in Fayoum, the same ones crosses visitors find in pharaonic tombs in Luxor, and the temple of Dendera near Qena. These locations probably served as hiding places for Christians during the Roman persecution.

The period between the year 200 and the council of Chalcedon (451) was a period of flourishing for the Coptic Orthodox Church. In spite of the Roman persecution of Christians the church continued to grow. The persecutions were most severe during the emperor Diocletian’s reign (284-311). The size of the Christian persecution in Egypt was probably larger than in other countries because of the size of the Christian community in Egypt.

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