The A to Z of the Coptic Church (The a to Z Guide)

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Investigations of Coptic mural paintings in historic churches and monasteries demand a deep understanding of the micro structure of the mural painting layers. The main objective of the present study is to study the efficiency of new avenues of computed X-ray tomography CT Scan and MATLAB in the analysis of Coptic mural paintings, either in the form of images or videos made to collect information about the physical characteristics of the material structure of the layers of mural paintings.

These advanced techniques have been used in the investigation of samples of Coptic mural paintings dating back to the V—VIII century A. D, which have been collected from several locations in the Coptic monasteries in Upper Egypt. The application of CT-scanning is a powerful non-destructive tool for imaging and investigation which can be applied to the preservation of monuments made from many different materials.

The second stage of research will be to characterize the materials through analytical techniques including XRD, XRF, EDX and FTIR to confirm the findings of CT scanning and to provide additional information concerning the materials used and their deterioration processes. This paper presents the results of the first pilot study in which CT scan and MATLAB have been utilized in combination for the non-destructive evaluation and investigation of Coptic mural paintings in Upper Egypt.

This multi-stranded investigation has provided us with important information about the physical structure of the paintings, grains dimensions, grain texture, pore media characterization which include the micro porosity, BET and TPV, surface rendering, and calculation of the points in the surface through calculations completed using MATLAB.

CT scanning assisted in the investigation and analyses of image surface details, and helped to visualize hidden micro structures that would otherwise be inaccessible due to over painting. The digital preservation of historical monuments using advanced 3D measurement technologies such as CT scanning and MATLAB are becoming efficient tools for object mapping. Samples from different periods and places can be scanned three-dimensionally stereoscopically using CT scanning. The specimen can be section cut at any angle without damaging the object, making it a very important tool for archaeological sampling.


Moreover, the CT scans allow for the creation of a 3D structural image of the mural painting samples and enable investigation from any angle 1 , 2. The samples analysed here are the first from a Coptic mural painting to be examined by CT scanning. The results have yielded extensive information on the surfaces, porosities, and inclusions. CT scanning allows every type of defect to be seen, located in space, and measured 3 , 4.

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This provides much more information than a single X-ray image and the evaluation quality is usually far better with CT than with digital X-ray. CT scanning is particularly useful for this study because it can help us to distinguish multi-layer overpainting on Coptic murals. Using this technique, we can observe hidden structures and employ cross sectioning to analyse overpainting and structure. Such advantages of this non-destructive technique are being exploited in increasingly imaginative ways across the cultural heritage sphere 1.

Coptic mural paintings in the monasteries of Upper Egypt are fresco paintings. The fresco paintings under investigation here are either directly applied on plaster layers consisting of fresh lime, or onto plaster layers dating back to different periods old layers consisting of different minerals. The multi-layered structures of these overpainted murals are complex. Some of the monasteries examined in this project reveal important overpainted Coptic texts; CT scanning helped us to better understand this.

Considerable conservation work remains to be performed at these monasteries, for there are many more Coptic and Arabic texts preserved under a thin layer of plaster. These texts and the murals of the church are very important to the study of the history of Christianity and monasticism in Upper Egypt, and the paintings of the church provide invaluable documentation for the study of Coptic art.

Unfortunately, the state of preservation for most of the murals bearing these texts is now very poor, Fig. Deterioration of the mural painting at the St. Simeon monastery in Aswan.

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Wind erosion, human handling, and fragmentation due to vandalism over the last forty years have also taken their toll; nevertheless, some parts of the fresco murals are still good quality and beautiful 5 , 6 , 7 , 8. The main objective of the present study is to study the efficiency of new avenues of computed X-ray tomography CT scanning and MATLAB in the analysis of Coptic mural paintings, regarding their physical characteristics and material structure in order to better understand their condition.

The second objective is to characterize the murals using analytical techniques such as EDX. This will help us to understand the materials involved, which is important both for the study of the ancient craftsmanship and the deterioration processes of the murals. The Qubbat al-Hawa monastery is the second largest monastery in Egypt, which is located on the west bank of Aswan city.

Today, this historic Coptic monastery is in ruins. It took its name from the hill where a shaykh is buried. On the flanks of this hill are the tombs of the governors of Aswan during the pharaonic New Kingdom. Church history records that it was probably built after the beginning of the Fatimid Period but before the end of the eleventh century. The golden age of the monastery was in the Fatimid period 5 , 6 , 7 , 8.

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The image shows exfoliation of the mural painting layer. Although this monastery has been uninhabited since the twelfth century, it remains fairly well preserved. The St. The monastery was built during the first half of the eleventh century.

By the end of the thirteenth century; it was one of the largest Coptic monasteries in Egypt Fig. Loss of strength and granular disintegration due to chemical mineralogical physical changes, and convenient pigment detachment; 2. Loss of the thin painting applied to the subsurface layer, which has led to desegregation of the surface and diminished cohesion between the wall and the mortar of the fresco; 3.

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The alteration of the pigment, as a result of water penetration by diffusion through the fresco from the wet wall to the pictorial layer. As well as the anthropogenic actions and impacts 9 , 10 , The monastery is dates to the fifth and sixth centuries A. In this study we investigated three groups of samples; each group comprises 3 samples collected from different levels of mural paintings of three monasteries in Upper Egypt. The dimensions of the samples were variable, the samples ranged from 1. The photographic images of the collected samples are show in Fig.

All three monasteries under investigation are in a poor state of preservation; however, the mural paintings in the worst condition are those from the Monastery of Saint Simeon in Aswan.

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These frescoes have been partially lost due to granular disintegration resulting from chemical-mineralogical-physical changes. Pigments from the paintings had become detached due to temperature variations, so this sample was also examined using EDX. Images of the five samples collected from different sites 1 Monastery of Qubbat al-Hawa.

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A CT system consists of a motorized X-ray source that rotates around a circular opening. All x-ray imaging is based on the absorption of X rays as they pass through the different parts of a sample. The information is picked up by detectors and transmitted to a computer to reconstruct all of the angles which are collected during one complete rotation. The CT scanning and examination of the mural samples was conducted at the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden 4 , 13 , 14 , 15 , EDX was used to determine the elemental composition of the coarse lower plaster layer.

The cross sections of the samples were prepared from the small fragments taken from the mural painting surfaces. Quantum FX is a cone-beam micro CT system, with the X-ray source and the detector rotated around a stationary sample by degree during scanning. All X-ray imaging is based on the attenuation of X-ray as it passes through the different parts of a sample. By combining a series 2-D CT images generated from degree rotation, a full 3-D image is reconstructed by built-in software Viewer PerkinElmer.

The special characteristics of the CT-images allow 3D and 2D reconstructions of the samples at a high defined resolution up to 4. This allowed the study to distinguish the layer structure as well as to study morphology of the surfaces.

The A to Z of the Coptic Church (The a to Z Guide) The A to Z of the Coptic Church (The a to Z Guide)
The A to Z of the Coptic Church (The a to Z Guide) The A to Z of the Coptic Church (The a to Z Guide)
The A to Z of the Coptic Church (The a to Z Guide) The A to Z of the Coptic Church (The a to Z Guide)
The A to Z of the Coptic Church (The a to Z Guide) The A to Z of the Coptic Church (The a to Z Guide)
The A to Z of the Coptic Church (The a to Z Guide) The A to Z of the Coptic Church (The a to Z Guide)

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