The Camel in Coptic Art an Artistic and Archaeological Study

Document Type : Original Research Articles



The camel is considered one of the most important desert animals. Evidence for its presence returns to the early periods but it was not widely used as other animals in Egypt. From the 1st and 2nd dynasties camels were known among the domesticated animals such as donkeys, oxen, pigs, and other cattle, then it stopped in appearance for a period. The camel’s real spread in Egypt was with the Greek conquest, the Ptolemaic and Roman periods to the degree that they were used in their armies. Evidence for their presence in Egypt since the early periods were found; painted on walls or artifacts that were found formed in the shape of camels, beside the daily life utensils and toys. Moreover, pieces of ostraca having contracts for sales and purchases operations including its prices gave us more information about it and about the new job of the camels’ shepherds. Camels were known during the Coptic period, as represented on the walls of the tombs as in Al- Bagawat tombs in Kharga oasis especially the chapel of Exodes and walls of the Monasteries and Churches. Camels were used by the artists in depicting the religious stories of the Old Testament or accompanying saints especially St. Mena and were represented during sharing in daily life works such as transporting crops from place to another. Applying descriptive and analytical methods, this research aims to indicate the type of camels, to trace the history of camel’s entrance into Egypt, to uncover the the camel’s scenes in Egypt during the Coptic period and to study the different appearances of camels and its development in art.


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