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Coptic manuscripts unearthed in tomb in Egypt


Agence France-Presse


Cairo, February 19, 2005|03:32 IST


Polish experts excavating in the southern city of Luxor have discovered three ancient Coptic manuscripts in a pharaonic tomb, Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities said on Saturday.


The find was the single most important Coptic discovery since 1945 when a pair of Bedouins stumbled onto the Coptic codices in Nag Hammadi in Egypt's western desert, it said.


The manuscripts date to the sixth century and were concealed in a Middle Kingdom (2000-1800 BC) tomb in Luxor, about 710 kilometres south of Cairo, the council said.


The texts may have been hidden there by Christians who were being persecuted at the time by the Romans, it said.


One of the manuscripts was 22.5 centimetres by 17 centimetres (nine by seven inches) and three centimetres (an inch) thick, explained the Council's head, Zahi Hawas.


The second had 50 pages and a cover made of skin adorned with ornaments, while the third also had 50 pages and a cover, but was in a poorer state, he added.


Hawas said experts would restore the manuscripts and try to read them in the hope that it would shed more light on early Christianity.