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In Coptic, as well as other Christian art or for that matter, the scenes depicting battles and other notable events on pagan temple walls, were not in themselves art for arts sake.

In these early periods, most people were illiterate, and thus many scenes from ancient Egyptian Christian churches might be better understood almost as graphic bibles, depicting famous topics in a manner suited to the common faithful of early Christianity.

All that can be said is that Coptic art is a distinctive art, and that it differed from that of Antioch, Constantinople and Rome.

The integration of contrasting configurations, including classical, Egyptian, Greek-Egyptian and Persian pagan motifs, as well as Byzantine and Syrian Christian influence, led to a trend in Coptic art that is difficult to define, because a unity of style is not possible to trace.The rock church of Deir Abu Hinnis near Antinoe, which was hewn within an ancient quarry, has one of the oldest examples of ecclesial (related to a church) painting, which dates from the end of the sixth century.A frieze here which continues uninterrupted between scenes and is characterized by a variety of poses, depicts many episodes of Christ's life, including the massacre of the innocents by Herod, the flight of Elizabeth and John, the dream of Joseph and the Holy Family's flight into Egypt.Here, the famous Chapel of the Exodus, dating to the fourth century AD, is so called because of its graphic representations of the Hebrew Exodus to the Promised Land under Moses.Within the center of the copula ceiling of the chapel birds weave amongst networks of vine branches, a motif originating in the east but adopted by the Roman world and used extensively in Christian monuments, such as the mausoleum of St.

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