Exhibit at Berlin State Museum
Through September 12, 2021
Berlin State Museums
One of the most important religious centers of the ancient world, the city of Akhmim in southern Egypt is presented in the exhibit Akhmim: Egypt’s Forgotten City, currently on display in the James Simon Gallery of the Berlin State Museums.
The city has been known by different names during its 6,000-year history, including Ipu, Panopolis, and the current Akhmim. It was and remains one of the main administrative, religious, and cultural centers of Upper Egypt, famous for its stonemasonry and textile production. In antiquity, it was the main site for the worship of the fertility god Min (later equated by the Greeks with Pan), whose rock-cut temple there was established in the mid-15th century B.C.E. and restored under Ptolemy II (285–246 B.C.E.). A number of well-known figures in Egyptian history came from Akhmim, including Tiye (mother of Akhenaten), Pharaoh Ay, the alchemist and Gnostic mystic Zosimus, the late antique poets Nonnus and Pamprepius, and the poet and grammarian Horapollon. Later, the region was home to vibrant Christian communities, with three large monasteries founded around 360 C.E. by Shenoute of Atripe, who wrote monastic rules that form the foundation of Christian cenobitic (communal) monasticism.
Built mostly in mudbrick, the ancient city has almost completely disappeared, although the stone temples were dismantled and reused by later generations. What survives is now dispersed in museums around the globe. To tell the city’s layered history, the exhibit brings together some 170 artifacts of statuary, furniture, textiles, manuscripts, pottery, and other objects of daily use that recreate a region and city of deep religious, political, and cultural significance throughout Egypt’s history.
Among the artifacts on display is a sixth-or seventh-century slab of limestone decorated with a relief of Jesus riding on a mule, accompanied by two angels. The scene represents Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.
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Monks at Work: Ideals and Reality in Early Egyptian Monasticism by Dana Robinson
Monotheism: The Egyptian roots
by James P. Allen
Coptic: Egypt’s Christian Language
by Leo Depuydt
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