Paraleipomena from Warsaw – with the eyes turned to Egypt…

This is the second entry that is inspired from things relating to the 27th Congress of papyrology held at the University of Warsaw between the 29th of July and the 2nd of August. As the title says, today I will complete what I would like to share from those days and will gradually move to more familiar grounds for our blog.

the participants

The participants of the conference had the chance to visit two very interesting exhibitions taking place on the premises of the university.

The first one was about Polish Archaeology in the Nile Valley and we would like to thank Dobrochna that shared with us this picture from the opening ceremony:

opening of exhibition

The second one was set at the entrance to the venue (the Old Library of the University of Warsaw) and it presented the history of the previous Congresses of Papyrology, from Brussels in 1930 to Warsaw in 2013.

from brussels to warsaw

A useful parcours of the history of a discipline with such wide and variable interests overheard so many of the private contacts between the participants, quite often the most interesting part of academic venues!

On the second floor of the Old Library, two rooms were given to publishers who wanted to exhibit their product relating to the conference.

book sellers

In that room, a special detail attracted our attention.

the cross from sai in warsaw

This was the only occasion that we came across the “cross from Sai” during our visit to Warsaw. It made us wonder about the reasons for the propagation or not of this pattern in the various regions of the world that we are visiting. Surely, there will be ample time to discuss this further and in future entries.

But now that the memories from Warsaw have brought us back to Christianity along the Nile, let us focus our attention on something that is happening in specifically this region and affects also the fate of the monuments from the Christian cultures of the Nile during the medieval era, while at the same time is linked with work conducted by a friend we spent quite some time together with in Warsaw.

at the royal castle with karel and dobrochna

During the last days in Egypt, Coptic churches have been the object of the attacks by revengeful Muslims, who are outraged by the way the legally elected government of Mursi and the Muslim Brotherhood was ousted by the military. Not all the attacks to the heritage of Egypt are against Coptic monuments and not all Muslims are supportive of such acts of course. Just like not all Muslims are supportive of Islamist oppressive regimes (whether Saudi- or Brotherhood-inspired), and not only Coptic churches are worth attention when they are attacked. But the combination, seen under the more general problematic relationship of Christians and Muslims in the wider Middle-East region, is a killer…

The reason why I wrote this paragraph is mainly as a contrast to other sorts of acts that are taking place at the same time by people who are concerned deeply about this heritage and they are dedicating personal time and effort for its safeguarding, understanding and promotion. That is for example the case of Karel Innemée and his colleagues at Deir al-Surian where conservation works are urgently needed. The financial situation in Egypt, Europe, and the academic world has not allowed for a project to be supported by a rich funding source. But Karel did not give up! He started a fund-raising project at kickstarter and there are still five days that we can all help them reach their goal! So, spread the words and donate your share – small or large!

deir al-surian
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