Coptic timeline

Coptic timeline

First millennium timeline: Roman, Byzantine, and early Islamic Egypt

This timeline is provided as an orientation for the history of Egypt in the first millennium. A Coptic lamp made of Nile salt

The links lead to websites giving more in-depth information, especially De Imperatoribus Romanis: An Online Encyclopedia of Roman Emperors

Image of a Coptic lamp made of Nile silt (Egypt Exploration Fund); Provenance: Antinoe (Antinoopolis) in Egypt, AD C5th; MU1844 - Museum of Ancient Cultures, Macquarie University. On loan from the Australian Museum. © Australian Museum

Compiled by Heike Behlmer

Roman period

30 BCE

Conquest of Egypt by Augustus; Egypt becomes a Roman Province; administrative language: Greek

30 BCE - 14 CE

Octavian (Augustus) emperor

14-37 CE.

Tiberius

19

Germanicus (adoptive son of Tiberius travels to Egypt)

37-41

Caligula

41-54

Claudius

~ 50 CE

St Mark the Evangelist missionizes in Alexandria (various dates given by church historians)

54-68

Nero

69

Year of four emperors; Vespasian acclaimed by the legions stationed in Egypt and visits the temple of Serapis in Alexandria

70 CE

Destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, numerous Jewish refugees come to Alexandria

79-81

Titus

81-96

Domitian

96-98

Nerva

115-117

Jewish rebellions in Egypt; the important community is virtually destroyed under Trajan and Hadrian

117-138

Hadrian

ca. 120

Christians in Egypt documented by papyrus finds

130

Travel of Hadrian to Egypt; Antinoos drowns in the Nile and is deified; foundation of Antinoopolis

138-161

Antoninus Pius

172-173

Rebellion in the delta under the leadership of a priest Isidorus

178-188

Julian first visible archbishop in Egypt

180-192

Commodus

193-211

Septimius Severus

~ 200

Flowering of Alexandrian theology (Origen, Clement)

201

First major persecution of Christians

211

Caracalla becomes emperor (after murdering his brother Geta)

212

Roman citizenship given to all free inhabitants of the empire (con­stitutio An­toniniana)

215

Massacre in Alexandria (reason: Alexandrians producing ironic verses on the murder of Geta)

241

Shapur I ascends to the throne of Sassanian Persia

242

Mani (216-276) founds the religion of Manichaeism, Manichaean missionaries diffuse his teaching in Egypt in the second half of the 3rd cent.

249-51 
and 257-59

Further persecutions under Decius (249-251) and Valerian(253-260; captured by the Persians in 260 )

ca. 251-356

St Anthony, model for the eremitic lifestyle

260

Tolerance edict of Gallienus, the following 40 years of peace enable Christianity to spread rapidly

270-272

Egypt under the control of Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra, defeated by Aurelian

283/4

Diocletian becomes emperor, important administrative reforms with far-reaching impact on Egypt

288-346/7

Pachomius, model of the cenobitic lifestyle, abbot of a congregation of male and female monasteries

293

Tetrarchy established (with Diocletian and Maximian as Augusti, Galerius and Constantius Chlorus as Caesars )

296

Revolt in Egypt led by Domitius Domitianus and Aurelius Achilles

298

Alexandria reconquered by Diocletian

303-311

Major persecutions of Christians (Edicts)

305

Diocletian and Maximian abdicate (Diocletian dies in 311/2), Constantius and Galerius become Augusti

306

Constantius dies

311

Galerius issues decree of tolerance; dies

312

Battle of Milvian BridgeConstantine

313

Tolerance edict (Edict of Milan) of Constantine (324-337 sole ruler)

from 318

Debate on Arianism (the Alexandrian presbyter Arius underlines the subordinate role and different nature of the Son as compared to the Father)

325

Ecumenical Council of Nicea, Arius' teaching condemned, Arianism continues to exist in the 4 th century as the creed of several emperors and some Germanic peoples

328-373

Athanasius, leading representative of Antiarianism, exiled several times by Arian emperors

330

Constantinople (work started in 324) becomes capital of the Roman Empire

after 348-465

Shenoute of Atripe abbot of a congregation of male and female monastic houses in Upper Egypt, important theologian and Coptic language author

361-363

 

364

Valentinian (West) and Valens (East)

379-395

TheodosiusI.

381

Proscription of Arianism

385-412

Theophilus Patriarch of Alexandria

391/392

Closure of pagan temples and prohibition of sacrifices by Theodosius I, destruction of the temple of Serapis at Alexandria

Byzantine period

395

Division of the Roman Empire between the sons of Theodosius, Egypt becomes part of the Eastern Empire (Con­stantinople) under Arcadius

412-444

Cyril Patriarch of Alexandria; Egypt's influence in the church at its summit

415

Murder of the famous neo-platonist philosopher Hypatia by Alexandrian Christians, synagogues converted into churches

431

Council of Ephesus

451

Council of Chalcedon; in the wake of the council centered around the question of the nature of Christ, large parts of the Egyptian church separate in a century-long process from the church in Constantinople, leading to a coexistence of Chalcedonian and non-Chalcedonian (Coptic) patriarch in Egypt

474-491

Zeno, emperor in the East (with two interruptions to his rule), attempts to reunite the divided church

491

Anastasius (supports the non-Chalcedonian party)

527-565

Justinian; attempts to reunite the churches (from a Chalcedonian viewpoint) by political and military means; his wife Theodora (dies in 548) supports the non-Chalcedonian party

535-537

Last pagan temple on the island of Philae closed

~ 570

Mohammed born

603 onwards

Persian (Sassanian) invasions of eastern provinces

610-641

Heraclius

614

Persians besiege and capture Jerusalem; the True Cross is taken

619-29

Occupation of Egypt by the Persian Sassanians

630

After the defeat of the Persians in 628, Heraclius restores True Cross to Jerusalem, returns in triumph to Constantinople

632

Mohammed dies

635

Arabs conquer Damascus

636

Battle of the River Yarmuk: Byzantine army defeated

638

Jerusalem surrendered to the Arabs

641-68

Constans II

Early Islamic period

640-42

Conquest of Egypt by an Arab force under the general cAmr ibn al-cAs; the lower and medium echelons of the administration still in the hands of local Christian dignitaries

706

Use of Greek as administrative language abolished; flowering of Coptic as administrative language in the 7 th and 8 th centuries

8th-9th cent.

Increasing arabization (government edicts redacted in Arabic starting in 706); first wave of conversions in the wake of failed rebellions and fiscal pressure in the first half of the 9 th cent., culminating in the ultimately unsuccessful Bashmuric revolts with the deportation or conversion of many Christians

8th-11th cent.

Production of the majority of Coptic manuscripts known today, copying, redacting and collecting activity in Coptic monasteries

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