Showing posts with label Coptic Cairo. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Coptic Cairo. Show all posts

Sunday, July 30, 2017

New Discovery, Cairo: Medieval Coptic Wall-Paintings Uncovered at Egyptian Monastery

Restorers at the Monastery of St. Bishoy near Cairo have uncovered frescoes depicting saints, martyrs and angels. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.

One of The Paintings Discovered At The Monastery
Restorers working at the Monastery of St. Bishoy in the Wadi El-Natroun area have uncovered a number of medieval-era wall-paintings and architectural elements in the monastery's old church.

“While removing the modern layer of mortar from the walls of the monastery's old church, several coloured wall-paintings were uncovered,” Mohamed Abdellatif, deputy antiquities minister for archaeological sites, told Ahram Online.

He explained that the paintings date from between the 9th and 13th centuries AD, which will help archaeologists to determine the original architectural style of the church and the dates of its construction.

According to historical books and religious documents, he said, the church was subjected to changes and modifications in its architecture in 840 AD, during the Abbasid era, and in 1069 AD, during the Fatimid caliphate.

The Ambon
Ahmed El-Nemr, a member of the ministry’s scientific bureau, said that the newly discovered wall-paintings are frescoes, and depict scenes of saints and angels with Coptic religious inscriptions below.

“The most distinguished paintings are those on the western and eastern walls of the church,” he said, describing the painting on the western wall as showing a woman named as Refka and her five sons, who were martyred during the persecution of Christians by the Roman empire.

The painting on the eastern wall depicts three saints and an archangel, and features Coptic writings below. El-Nemr explained that when restorers removed the modern additions they stumbled upon the ambon, an elevated platform that is a feature of many orthodox churches.

The newly discovered ambon is made of mud-brick covered with a layer of mortar and decorated with a red cross. Some geometric drawings, crosses and lettering were also found in various parts of the church.

The conservation project by the antiquities ministry has been ongoing since 2015, when a number of monasteries in the Wadi El-Natroun area experienced flooding.

The Monastery of St. Bishoy is around 100 kilometres north-west of Cairo, and is located along the Cairo-Alexandria highway. It has a collection of buildings, including five churches and a fort, as well as the tomb of the late Coptic Orthodox Pope Shenouda III, who died in 2012.

Monday, July 17, 2017

News, Cairo: AUC Hands Over to Egypt 5,000 Artifacts From Past Archaeological Excavations

The American University in Cairo is to transfer nearly 5,000 Islamic, Coptic, Pharaonic, Greco-Roman artifacts to the possession of the Egyptian state. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.

Coins
AUC has been in legal possession of these antiquities since the 1960s, ensuring their preservation. “Though we legally possessed these artifacts and scrupulously preserved and protected them over so many years, we took the initiative to transfer these important antiquities to the Ministry of Antiquities because we felt that this should be their rightful home,” said AUC President Francis J Ricciardone. “Egyptology has been one of AUC’s most beloved fields over many years. In collaboration with the ministry, we have always strived to advance the field globally, through both our scholarship and our demonstration of responsible stewardship,” he added.

Former Minister of State for Antiquities Affairs Zahi Hawass commended this collaboration. “I am thrilled to know that AUC gave its antiquities collection to the Ministry of Antiquities as a gift,” said Hawass, who had officially stated in 2011, while serving as minister, that all artifacts in AUC’s storage were registered and documented with the ministry.

An Islamic clay lamp
The nearly 5,000 pieces were registered and reviewed in collaboration with the Ministry of Antiquities. They date from a time when archaeological material, after a stringent review, did not have to remain exclusively in the hands of the Egyptian Antiquities Organisation (now the Supreme Council of Antiquities).

The bulk of the materials consisted of fragments of everyday pottery, such as bowls, ulnas, jars and lusterware vessels. Most of the materials could be dated back to the 10th and 11th centuries. Some of the objects in the collection had been legal gifts to the university. 

“The materials from the excavation often seem humble, but they help fill in the blanks to understand what people ate, their social class and trade in the region,” said Distinguished University Professor Salima Ikram and head of the Egyptology unit at AUC’s Department of Sociology, Anthropology, Psychology and Egyptology.

Clay fragments 
“The pots, for example, can point to how people lived and the technologies used at the time, and can demonstrate artistic influence on ceramic production and decoration.”

Specifically, AUC acquired most of these artifacts during joint excavations in the Fustat area led by the late George Scanlon, professor emeritus in AUC’s Department of Arab and Islamic Civilisations who became a prominent name in the field of Islamic archaeology. “George Scanlon’s work at Fustat was invaluable, as it set the stage for Islamic archaeology in Egypt,” said Ikram. 

“He and his colleagues helped create the discipline, fusing art history, archaeology and texts in an effort to understand the administrative, sacred and secular lives of the inhabitants of Fustat, one of the first Muslim capitals of Egypt.”

Ikram had reviewed the Pharaonic materials in AUC’s possession, while Scanlon was responsible for the Fustat materials. The objects were regularly checked against the list made by AUC and the Egyptian Antiquities Organisation. “The Fustat objects had already been catalogued by Dr Scanlon, who excavated them, so they were fully recorded,” said Ikram. The discovery of these artifacts was shared between Egypt and the American mission at that time.

A ceramic tile 
After this excavation, the diverse antiquities were brought to AUC, and the university came to legally possess these artifacts in accordance with the Egyptian Antiquities Law No 215 for 1951, which previously allowed foreign excavations in Egypt to keep 50 percent of their findings. The remaining 50 percent of the artifacts went to the Egyptian state. Throughout AUC’s period of custody over the collection, the materials were kept under close surveillance, and were securely stored to prevent damage. The special storage room, locked behind two secure doors, was equipped with protected cupboards to ensure the safekeeping of the materials.

The same committee from the Ministry of Antiquities responsible for the recent handover had collaborated closely with AUC over the years to conduct reviews of the collection twice a year, keeping records of the inventory and maintaining photographic documentation.

In May 2017, the Ministry of Antiquities assigned a special committee to review the inventory of antiquities at AUC, comparing it to its own government records. They worked with AUC’s Office of Legal Affairs to ensure that all antiquities were preserved and documented in the handover. “This [transfer] is incredible news, and I hope that any institution that owns antiquities not shown in museums would give them back,” said Hawass.

“AUC President Francis Ricciardone will be remembered in history because of his courage, power and honesty to take this decision,” Hawass added.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

News, Cairo: Exhibition Commemorating Coptic 'Martyrs' Inaugurated at Coptic Museum

An exhibition on Egypt’s Coptic 'martyrs' from the early Coptic era until the present was inaugurated on Thursday at Cairo’s Coptic MuseumWritten By/ Nevine El-Aref.
Senkesar book/ Photo by Ahmed El-Nemr
Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany and Bishop Julius of the Old Cairo Churches inaugurated on Thursday an archaeological exhibition at the Coptic Museum titled “Egypt Martyrs."

The exhibition pays homage to Egyptian martyrs across the span of the country’s history with a focus on Copts who were killed during the period of religious persecution by the Romans in the early Christian era as well as Egyptians (whether Christian or Muslims) killed in terrorist attacks in recent years. The exhibition spans up until the most recent deadly sectarian attack against Christians in December 2016 at the St. Peter and St. Paul Church in Cairo, which killed 28 Copts.

Ahmed El-Nemr, the supervisor general of the Coptic Antiquities Documentation Department, told Ahram Online that the exhibition put on show ten artifacts carefully selected from the museum’s treasured collection and banners displaying martyrs. The artifacts, he pointed out, include three icons, a relief, a copy of Al-Senkesar (a book commemorating the life of Coptic Saints) as well as glass and clay oil chandeliers.
Source: Ahram Online 

New discovery, Sakkara: Hawass Announces New Archaeological Discovery in Saqarra

The Egyptian Mission working in the Saqqara antiquities area next to the pyramid of King Teti, the first king of the Sixth Dynasty of the ...