Homepage Timeline Maps A-Z index Learning

Koptos, background information

Koptos (or Coptos) is the Greek name of the ancient Egyptian name for the town gbtyw. The modern Arabic version is Qift. Since at least the Early Dynastic Period Koptos was an important place with temple of Min as religious centre. At the end of the Old Kingdom (about 2686-2181 BC) it became capital of the fifth province of Upper Egypt. Koptos is the departure point for quarrying and mining expeditions to the eastern desert and for the route through the Wadi Hammamat to the Red Sea. The town is still very important in the Ptolemaic and Roman Periods. The Red Sea trade routes from India to Alexandria passed Koptos. Town and cemeteries are today badly destroyed. The great temple was originally dedicated to Min. In later times it was dedicated to Min and Isis (Isis was the wife of Min in Koptos). The temple was very much enlarged under Ptolemy II. A well preserved peripheral temple is still standing at El-Qala. In the 7th century AD Pisentius from Koptos (568/69-632) was bishop: he became considered a saint.

UC 32038, Greek ostrakon found at Koptos



Copyright © 2002 University College London. All rights reserved.