The Apostolic College in the Monumental Painting of Medieval Egypt

The Apostolic College in the Monumental Painting of Medieval Egypt


The aim of the research was to determine whether on the basis of the preserved wall paintings and inscriptions coming from the area of Egypt the names of apostoles that formed the group of the twelve students of Christ can be determined.

Project/study aim

In theory, in the group of apostoles, there should be only these students of Christ that were selected by him, but taking into account the cult of Paul in Rome already in the earliest apse scenes, dated at the end of the IV century, he was placed in the apostole collegium. Paul converted only after the Resurrection, but was integrated also into the Roman liturgy. Such a composition of the team of the “Twelve” was seized in Bisantium and spreaded in the East and West. Studies of the project manager of a project in Nubia (south of the first cataract in Nile) showed that both in texts and Nubian paintings Paul does not appear at all. It is a topic of wider studies of the project manager.
The aim of the task, performed within the grant Miniatura 1 were studies over Apostolic College in Egypt and comparison of the Nubian and Egypt on tradition both based on source texts and publications, as mainly field studies and describing monuments in situ during a month’s trip to Egypt.

Research method

The research method consisted in the application of precise description of monuments, prepared in situ (including all possible damage) and identification of specific figures of the apostole group, based on the iconographic and iconological analysis. Next, comparative analysis of the Egyptian and Nubian monuments was performed.

History of execution

In the course of the execution of the project, a month long trip to Egypt was planned. Its aim was skontrum monuments depicting Apostole collegium in monumental paintings and inscriptions, as well as research in Cairo libraries. Initial research results performed during preparations for the trip were presented in Paris during 14. International Nubiological Conference in Louvre.
In the course of the trip to Egypt in September and October 2018, a scontrum in the following monasteries was performed: the monastery of Anthony and Paul at the Red Sea; the monastery of Symeona and Dayr Qubbat al-Hawa in Assuan; in the temple of Wadies-Sebua at the Lake of Nasera (one that Christians converted into a church), in monasteries: White and Red in Sohag, in the Cathedral of St. Mark in Alexsandria and in convent churches in 55. The stay in Cairo resulted in works in Coptic Museum and in the Churches El Muallaq and Abu Sayfayn. Also studies were conducted in the libraries of the French Institute for Eastern Archaeology and German Institute of Archaeology

Effect of implementation

In the effect of scientific activities the project manager concluded that the Egyptian performances were more diverse than the Nubian ones, which stemmed in the first place from wider external Egyptian networking activities than the ones of Nubia, and also from the fact that Egypt was conquered in VII c. by Arabs, while Nubia remained a Christian kingdom. Monarchs reigning in Nubia were patrons of art and in most probability they were aiming to preserve the homogenous scheme and their their images also in the environment of apostolic colleges. St. Paul appears in some Egyptian plays and not in others. Sometime he is placed on the thirteenth position of apostolic censuses.
The results of scientific actions will be published in materials of the 14. Nubiological Conferece in Paris. They will also be included into a habilitation monograph entitled “Kolegium apostolskie bez św. Pawła” [Apostollic college without St Paul].

Impact of the result on: development of science, economy, society

Elaboration and publication of research conducted during the project will bear influence not only on the perception on art in the Valley of Nile, but also on a fresh look on the development on the development of the cult of apostles in the area. In a wider context it may influence the perception of Christianity in general. It seems that in the Valley of Nile the tradition independent from Roman influences developed, and at the same time closer to what was written in the canonical books of the Holy Scripture.