A Coptic Week

Reading the title of today’s entry, one could think that the focus will be on the tumultuous conditions that were caused in the Islamic world after the accusations that the film “Innocence of Muslims“, that was deemed as blasphemous against Muhammad and the Islamic religion, was made by the Egyptian-American Coptic Christian Nakoula Basseley Nakoula (he has however refused the attribution).

We rather wish to exorcise the violent atmosphere of the streets in so many towns of the Islamic world, though, by reminding of the interesting coincidence that there starts today in Rome the 10th International Congress of Coptic Studies. We hope that by the time the congress is over, the problems will have been overcome, although the question of the limits of liberty of speech will remain under dispute for quite long – but there should be more peaceful ways to conduct this dispute, right!?!

Now, Coptic Studies have been traditionally considered as the closest discipline to Medieval Nubian Studies and naturally our field is represented by some of the foremost scholars of Medieval history, archaeology and literacy along the Middle Nile Valley. We glean from the programme of the Congress and in “order of appearance” as it stands today at the official webpage:

1. Joost Hagen, Sahidic Biblical Manuscripts (Old and New Testament) from Qasr Ibrim: Texts and contexts

2. Randa Omar Kazem Baligh, Coptic Art in Sudan and How Christianity Spread there

3. Magdalena Laptas, A Horned Crown in the Light of New Discoveries from Banganarti (Sudan)

4. Jacques van der Vliet, The wisdom of the walls: monastic epigraphy

5. Tim Power, The Arabs and Beja in the Early Islamic Eastern Desert of Egypt

6. Grzegorz Ochała, Nubian liturgical calendar: the evidence of Old Nubian lectionaries

7. Adam Łajtar, Literature and magic. Texts of ritual power in a burial vault at the monastery on Kom H at Dongola

8. Dobrochna Zieliñska & Gertrud van Loon, The decorative programme of the church at Naqa el-Oqba – Egyptian or Nubian?

Alexandros is proud to have contributed to Dobrochna’s part of the last-listed paper with some comments on the epigraphy of this monument; and we will be looking forward to hosting Dobrochna’s impressions from this very important scientific venue that professional duties in Bergen keep us away from…

…but with the research on the material from Qasr el Wizz progressing we believe that when the results of this work are presented they will offer very useful insights in the relations between the Coptic and the Nubian Christian worlds in general, and their respective monastic communities in particular.

In the meantime, another project at the other end of the Christian world of Egypt, namely at Sinai, attracted our attention. It concerns more precisely the immense task of trying to read the palimpsests surely existing behind the nowadays visible texts of the second-only-to-the-Vatican collection of Greek manuscripts…

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