The Significance of the Coptic History


Coptic History has largely been neglected and when studied, has often been included in the Greco‐Roman period. A hundred years ago, the late Archdeacon Habib Girgius made the plea in his article in El Karma (1906) to record and study this very important part of Egyptian history.

The early years of Coptic history are buried in the Greek and Roman era; later Coptic History was obscured as the history of Egypt focused mainly on Arab Egypt and made no reference to Coptic History.

There have, however, been recent genuine efforts to look at Coptic History as an integral part of the history of Egypt. The concept that Muslims and Copts are two entities in society are quickly disappearing, emphasizing the fact that all are Egyptians, and that Coptic History is inextricably linked to the history of Egypt and cannot be studied in isolation.

Coptic history has had, and continues to have, significant impact on daily life, customs and tradition, the art, culture, and administration in Egypt, and will continue to do so. It has influenced art, architecture, and music as we see them today. Coptic History embraces and links the Pharaonic, Roman, Greek, and Arab cultures to current Egypt and its society.

The Coptic language, derived from the ancient demotic Egyptian language, had much in common with the Greek language. It was superseded by Arabic which became the main language in Egypt. However, hundreds of Coptic words are still in daily use just as they were 1500 years ago. IT is the language the Coptic Church employs in its rituals and its liturgy. Coptic History reveals the involvement of the Copts in ship and bridge building and in the metal industry.

The old Egyptian ‘Coptic’ textiles still amaze the whole world with their unique designs, colors, and their permanent dyes, which still remain a mystery. The agricultural calendar is still that used by the Copts of long ago and Sham el Nessim and the Nairooz are still national celebrations.