Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Egypt's Coptic Museum

Al Masry Al Youm

One that I would really love to visit!

The Coptic Museum in Cairo has more to offer its visitors than is generally thought. Still, only a small group of Egyptian school children and Coptic families, who visit the museum after church service, get to realize that the Coptic period is not only about Coptic Christian theology and art. The museum’s collection--the most comprehensive collection of Coptic artifacts in the world--records around eight centuries of Egypt’s diverse social, cultural, economic, religious and political life in the first millennium. Alongside icons of the Virgin Mary, Jesus Christ and monks, crosses constructed in stone reliefs and biblical manuscripts, are representations of Greek mythology, Roman iconography and Coptic styles that are very connected to Islamic art.

As soon as visitors pass the Gallery of the Masterpieces, they are met with a pilaster (a flat column) of a scene from a Greek myth in which Dionysus, the Greek god of wine, is portrayed along with Heracles, the Greek divine hero, dressed up in his wife’s robes. The inclusion of pagan art might surprise visitors who are familiar with the words Copt or Coptic pertaining only to the Christian faction that follows the Egyptian Orthodox Church. In reality, the history of Coptic art is much more inclusive.

The Coptic Museum is located in historic Old Cairo next to the Roman Fortress of Babylon and surrounded by Cairo’s oldest churches.

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