Thursday, April 21, 2011

Scribbled by a community of nuns – Ancient Coptic graffiti adorns walls of 3,200 year-old Egyptian temple

New research shows that about 1,500 years ago a community of Coptic nuns scribbled graffiti 
onto the temple of Seti I at Abydos. Photo by Steve F-E Cameron, CC attribution
3.0 unported

Who says nuns don’t have any fun?
A new research project led by Professor Jennifer Westerfeld, of the University of Louisville, is taking a look at a unique set of graffiti scribbled onto the walls of a 3,200 year old Egyptian temple.
The temple was built at Abydos by Seti I, a powerful pharaoh who pushed the borders of the Egyptian empire as far as modern day Syria. It contains two courtyards, two hypostyle halls, chapels and an enigmatic structure known as the “Osireion,” which may commemorate the Egyptian story of creation.
Today this complex is covered in a large amount of graffiti dating from ancient times up until the medieval period. Westerfeld believes that a community of nuns contributed to this defacement, writing on its walls around 1,500 years ago.
A significant corpus of late antique graffiti from the temple appears to have been produced by a community of Coptic nuns who periodically visited the site,” she writes in the abstract of a paper recently presented at the annual meeting of the American Research Center in Egypt (ARCE).
Coptic is the Egyptian branch of Christianity and became widely practiced after the religious reforms of the Roman emperor Constantine in the early 4th century AD.
Westerfeld said that a find like this, if validated, is unprecedented.
“Such a collection of epigraphic evidence for female monastic activity is virtually unparalleled in Egypt,” she writes.  “This material has never been fully edited or studied.”
In an email Professor Westerfeld declined an interview request, cautioning that this research is at a “very preliminary” stage and more work needs to be done.
However, if she is right, we’re about to learn about a community that, until now, has not had a voice in Egyptian history.


  1. The temple of Philae also has Christian graffiti. It's like the Catholics building churches on top of Indian temples in the Americas, stripping the pagan site of its power.

  2. Pagan sites? NO! Some individuals need to take a history lesson. Way before religion became what it is (A full blown delusion), humans respected the planet, nature and each other. Then religions came in the form of many gods, yet they still were not truly religions, but in a sense, they were the people showing respect to certain human beings who has extraordinary abilities for their time. As this amazed early humans, they revered them, worshipped them which turned into religion. Later, the religion of a single God, which truly started in Egypt and as a matter of fact, all religions started in Egypt, the one God (that people unnoticeably ignore in the many religions is in fact the same person, yes: person, human being, Not and Imaginary being or omnipresent thing) told the people that HE created the heavens, the earth, the humans, etc... and the people believed him because he was powerful and merciless and they were easily fooled, gullible, ignorant (much like the people of today). So, NO... paganism, druids, etc. were NOT bad people! They had much more respect and reverence for nature, the planet and humanity as a whole. Some people will NEVER understand because of their one-sided, ignorant, greedy selfish thinking and behavior.

  3. Yes, Egypt was the source of the first monotheistic religion (that we know of), but it was short lived and lasted only a few years of Akhaneten's reign.

    Egypt wasn't the source of all religion. We know that sites such as Gobekli Tepe and Nevali Cori in Turkey show signs of religious behaviour some 6 thousand years before the Egyptians. Even later than that, the Sumerians, the Jomon and a number of other civilisations had religions that predated Egypt.

  4. Re. the second post:

    In the first post, I meant pagan from the Christian point of view.

    Please don't romanticize a time before religions or particular types of religions. People are people.

  5. Definition:

    As neither Christian, Muslim, or Jewish, AND polytheistic, I'd say the ancient Egyptians and the native Americans qualify.

  6. "Anonymous said...

    Yes, Egypt was the source of the first monotheistic religion (that we know of), but it was short lived and lasted only a few years of Akhaneten's reign."

    Sorry to burst you're ignorant bubble, but worship of the "Aten" extended back at least to Amenhotep I. Akhenaton's father, Amenhotep III, built a city called the Shining Aten, and after Akhenaton was deposed and exiled from Egypt to Palestine, images of the Aten are found on images with "Jewsish" iconography (King Hezekiah). In fact, the worship of "Neith" was in fact the protype Atena, and "Adonis" was really Atonis", her brother, the Sun. Where do you think At(h)ens got it's name? Well, Amenhotep III's and his wife Queen Tiya's cartouches are found at Mycenae. And "(Aga=Father/Head Priest)Memnon's statues are found where? The Colossi of Memnon, at Amenhotep III's Luxor temple. Solomon's temple.

    Please refrain from making statements you know nothing about, thank you.


  7. "Please refrain from making statements you know nothing about, thank you."

    You should take your own advice because your pseudo-etymological fantasies reek of ignorance.


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