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Entre réforme sociale et mouvement national

Alain Roussillon

Réformer les représentations

Archeology, Social Reform, And Modern Identity Among The Copts (1854-1952)

Donald Malcolm Reid

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One day in the winter of 1908 Murqus Simaika, vice president of the Coptic Community Council (Al-Majlis al-Milli, hereafter Majlis Milli), called on Patriarch Kyrillus V and found him watching as a silversmith weighed out old silver gospel covers and church vessels to be melted down for reworking. They bore 14th and 15th century inscriptions in Coptic and Arabic. Simaika offered to raise the L.E. 180 market value of the bullion if these objects would be saved in a storeroom as a start toward a museum. The Patriarch agreed, and the Coptic Museum was born.1

This transvaluation of worn-out cult objects worth no more than their weight in silver into priceless antiquities reflects a major shift in the way the Copts viewed their past and defined their present identity. In the West, similar transvaluations accompanied the development of classical archeology, Egyptology, and — later and differently — Islamic art and archeology. Diverted from Western imperial to Egyptian nationalist purposes,...


Georgia State University

© CEDEJ - Égypte/Soudan, 1995

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