A few days ago I learned of a new blog focussed on the Coptic language and related topics of Egyptology. Coptic was the last iteration of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics – hieratic – demotic, containing a simplified alphabet and adding some Greek letters-sounds. At the time I studied Coptic, the only grammar was an ancient edition of the Bohairic dialect, in German. Now, there are better tools.
The topics covered by the author are a welcomed addition to scant resources on the web that are accessible to non-specialists. The 15th century of a woodcut map of the Delta and the various links are also wonderful.
The story of Coptic typography begins with a pilgrimage from Oppenheim to the Holy Land in 1483 by Bernhard von Breydenbach, Canon of Mainz and Dean of its Cathedral. Bernhard von Breydenbach was accompanied to Jerusalem by many nobles, among them the Dutch artist Erhard Reuwich who produced a series of impressive woodcuts of the places they visited along their jouney, people and beasts they encountered and oriental alphabets. On the conclusion of their pilgrimage, Breydenbach and Reuwich published an account of their journey in 1486 entitled Peregrinatio in Terram Sanctam. First published in Latin and printed in Mainz, it was the world’s first illustrated travelogue and such was its popularity that it went on to be printed in several European languages. Among the alphabets Breydenbach and Reuwich produced in woodcut was the first printed Coptic alphabet (Fig 1).
The Coptic alphabet was printed alongside other scripts used in…
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