A city of Upper Egypt, situated on the banks of the Nile. Of late years it has attained great importance, on account of the discoveries made in its cemeteries. The hill of Akhmin, some two miles long, is filled with human remains piled up in pits which contain as many as eight or ten small chambers, one above the other, with a dozen coffins in each. There are also caves containing mummies crowded together in the common ditch. Heathens and Christians are heaped together in such a fashion as to make it frequently impossible to say whether the owner of the little articles found near a body was a heathen, a Christian, or a member of some heretical sect, since we know Eutychianism had become the religion of almost the whole Coptic nation, from the fifth century onward.
The city is chiefly famous for its papyri and for its tapestries. Among the former, the fragments known as the "Gospel of Peter", the "Apocalypse of Peter", and the "Book of Henoch " hold the first place, but need not be discussed here. The tapestries, however, have furnished material of primary importance to the history of textile handicrafts in ancient times. A few pieces, of uncertain date, were to be found in various European museums. The excavations at Akhmin and the copies made by R. Forrer have now supplied us with a quantity of materials in excellent preservation and of the greatest possible variety. The style of these Akhmin tapestries is sometimes original, but in a great many instances it approximates the decorative type of Roman or Eastern art. The older ones are far superior to the others in design, especially in their treatment of the human figure. The growing want of skill in this regard enables us to trace, step by step, the progress of decadence. These most ancient tapestries are in two colors, yellow and pale brown. With the introduction of polychromy, ornament and animal decoration take the place of human figures. Even this animal decoration is often so angular, so poorly rendered, as to end in outlines resembling geometrical designs.
The discoveries at Akhmin have not been confined to tapestries, though these are of the greatest importance to the history of the industrial arts. Forrer has brought to light ampullae of terracotta, clay, and bronze, also jewels and toilet articles of gold or ivory. The discoveries have, however, revealed but few symbolisms not previously known. One tapestry, indeed, shows the Lamb of God, bearing the little banner, which is probably the most ancient example of this still familiar symbolism.
The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed between 1907 and 1912 in fifteen hard copy volumes.
Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.
No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.
Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912
Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online