History Through Inscriptions: Coptic Epigraphy in the Wadi al-Natrun<sup>1</sup>

Maged S.A. Mikhail and Mark Moussa

in Christianity and Monasticism in Wadi al-Natrun

Published by American University in Cairo Press

Published in print March 2009 | ISBN: 9789774162602
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9781617970474 | DOI:
History Through Inscriptions: Coptic Epigraphy in the Wadi al-Natrun1

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This chapter explores the multilingual inscriptions found in the region: the chapter aims to show how these inscriptions can be used to uncover the history of monasticism in Wadi al-Natrun. It is hoped that this chapter can give an idea, first, of the variety and richness of the epigraphic sources, and then of their importance. There are three categories of inscriptions—the monumental stone inscriptions, those painted upon or scratched into the walls, and finally those adorning moveable objects—that constitute the subject of monastic epigraphy in its breadth and variety. It is shown that they are a source of information which the historian of the Wadi al-Natrun would be unwise to neglect, even if they do not always write History with a capital letter H. It then reports the Coptic inscriptions that have been discovered since 1990 near Dayr Abu Maqar and in the Church of the Virgin at Dayr al-Suryan, and are still only partly published. The chapter also limits itself to only three aspects of the recent finds, namely their historical, linguistic, and cultic implications. In general, the inscriptions briefly discussed represent a mere selection from the epigraphic material in Coptic discovered in the Wadi al-Natrun during the last fifteen years.

Keywords: Coptic epigraphy; Wadi al-Natrun; Coptic inscriptions; monasticism; monumental stone inscriptions; walls; adorning moveable objects

Chapter.  8470 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Christianity

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