Egypt Exploration Fund [Hrsg.]
Archaeological report: comprising the work of the Egypt Exploration Fund and the progress of egyptology during the year ... — 1901-1902

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Christian Egypt.


history of the art of the period. That history is now before us, in some
340 pages with plentiful illustrations.3* The book is a very disappointing-
production. The author aims at " popularizing" Coptic art. That
subject is, however, preceded by long disquisitions upon the philosophic
systems of Pharaonic and Christian (gnostic) Egypt; for M. G-ayet holds
that the later art is only to be interpreted in the light of the older mystic
symbolism. Though he cannot entirely deny the intrusion of foreign
elements under Eomau and Byzantine rule, he yet manages for the most
part to ignore them, and to see in the ungainly Coptic productions—more
clumsy, in truth, as time separates them further from their foreign models
•—manifestations of the native spirit, significant even under Christian
disguises. Christianity was, in Egypt, merely a new ritual for the old
beliefs (p. 9); it made use of the whole repertory of ancient symbolism
(p. 41). The Copt " converted Christianity to his ancient religion"
(p. 66). We hear of " the absolute assimilation of Christianity to the
.fia-symbolism, of the personality of Jesus to that of Osiris " (p. 118).
Progress in Coptic art signifies the desertion of Byzantine or Hellenistic
models and a return to its true source, Egyptian mysticism. It is not,
however, merely with such generalities that M. Gayet is content; he carries
his symbolistic mania into the interpretation of each monument. The
cross in a rosette is the sun-disc, palms beside it are its wings (p. 74).
The familiar fish, if two are represented, becomes Christ on earth and His
"double" (sic) in heaven (p. 83). The orans is in reality the old ha
hieroglyph; so, too, is the frog with out-spread legs on the clay lamp
(pp. 91, 92). The cleric wearing a chasuble is but the heathen priest in
his panther skin. The dove is perverted into the sacred hawk (p. 102);
even the common Menas flasks are explained as St. George (i.e. Horus)
on the crocodiles! (p. 115). As examples of wild interpretation we may
cite those of the stelae on pp. 78, 79, 89, 100. Nor is there any lade of
commonplace blunders. The "Acts of the Martyrs" were not in the
Propaganda collection (p. 34). The various illustrations of "gnostic"
objects are merely a miscellaneous collection with nothing in common
beyond their unfamiliarity (pp. 42-G4). An amusing example is the
"gnostic stone" on p. 52, which is nothing less than a Byzantine
Vl-soliduz weight! (<;/. Dalton's Catul. of Early Christ. Antiq., no. 476).
The same reason accounts for the collection of " sceaux d'hosties " (pp. 88,
98) which, whatever they may be, surely did not serve that object. Abu
Salih was not a Musulman author (p. 141). Der-el-Azam does not mean
" Monastery of the Virgin " (p. 163), nor Baramus, " the humble " (p. 185).
The quotation on p. 193 is not from Severus, but from Abu Salih. The
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