Coptic art and archaeology: the art of the Christian Egyptians from the late antique to the Middle Ages

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MIT Press, 1978 - Art - 387 pages
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Professor Alexander Badawy has written and profusely illustrated this rich study of the works of Coptic Egyptians starting in the early Christian period following the Antique and ending with the assimilation of Coptic art into that of Islam. Coptic Art and Archaeologyis based on extensive archaeological excavations and on researchers' accounts. In developing his thesis on the nature of the Coptic spirit in the arts, Professor Badawy-an archaeologist and art historian-has drawn upon his own firsthand observations plus a wealth of materials from museums all over the world. The result is a comprehensive examination of the Coptic arts. The text is illustrated with photographs (including the author's own), with plans of excavated sites, and with the author's restored perspectives. It is a journey through the sites and discoveries that have provided present knowledge of the Coptic civilization: a journey that included the architecture of houses and towns, fortified and unfortified monasteries, murals, paintings, and sculpture in several media, textiles, ceramics, and illuminated manuscripts. All are described in painstaking detail and historical context by the author. Illustrations are keyed to the text, which in turn demonstrates that Coptic art was in many ways a "people's art"-an art of the middle and lower classes-and not invariably a religious art. Developments in style reflected the changing fortunes of the Egyptian Christians, and this, too, is carefully traced and the examples are noted in the text and in illustrations. Professor Badawy concludes the book with a study of the effects of Coptic art on European artistic traditions. The remarkable comprehensiveness of this book will make it a basic tool of professional art historians and archaeologists, and it seems inevitable that the extensive and detailed descriptions of the extant works of Coptic artists will stimulate additional research into this area of art history. The professional and the student will find especially helpful the extensive footnotes, bibliography of international sources listed by subject area (e.g. Sculpture, Architecture, Painting), and the literally hundreds of illustrations that provide an unparalleled single-book source of examples of Coptic art. For those who cannot make the pilgrimage to the actual sites or visit the museum collections all over the world, Professor Badawy has provided the next best thing: a painstakingly detailed representative description of the treasures that are known. This is also a book for the layman who can enjoy the evidences of the Coptic genius in ornamentation and gain an appreciation of the influences of history and politics on the art and culture of a people.

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The Shift to Monasticism
The Unfortified Monasteries
The Fortified Monasteries

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