Saint Mark brought Christianity to Egypt during the reign of the Roman emperor Nero in the first century CE. Christianity spread throughout Egypt within half a century of Saint Mark’s arrival, and by 400 CE, Christianity flourished in both Egypt and Ethiopia. These early Christians became known as Copts, from the Greek name for Egyptians, Αἰγύπτιος.
The coptic cross is said to be a variation on the Egyptian hieroglyph Ankh, meaning life. The circle represents the eternal love of God or Christ’s halo and resurrection. Coptic crosses are rarely seen depicting the crucified body of Christ.
Penn Museum Object #87-13-48.
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Expedition magazine article: An Ethiopian Holy Land by Ljubica D. Popovich, 1971
Expedition magazine article: Varieties of Amhara Graphic Art by Allan Young, 1967