1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Coptos

COPTOS (Egyptian Keft, Kebto), the modern Ḳuft (a village with railway station a short distance from the west bank of the Nile about 25 m. north-east of Thebes), an ancient city, capital of the fifth nome of Upper Egypt, and the starting-point of several roads to the Red Sea, of which that which passes along the valley running due east to Kosseir past the ancient quarries of Hammāmāt was the most frequented, until the foundation of Berenice (q.v.) by Ptolemy Philadelphus made an even more important line of traffic to the south-west. The growth of trade with Arabia and India thereafter raised Coptos to great commercial prosperity; but in A.D. 292 its share in the rebellion against Diocletian led to an almost total devastation. It again appears, however, as a place of importance, and as the seat of a considerable Christian community, though the stream of traffic turned aside to the neighbouring Ķūṣ. During part of the 7th century it was called Justinianopolis in honour of the emperor Justinian.

The local god of Coptos, as of Khemmis (Akhmīm, q.v.), was the ithyphallic Min; but in late times Isis was of equal importance in the city. Min was especially the god of the desert routes. Petrie’s excavations on the site of the temple brought to light remains of all periods, the most remarkable objects being three very primitive limestone statues of the god with figures of an elephant, swords of sword-fish, sea-shells, &c., engraved upon them: there were also found some very peculiar terra-cottas of the Old Kingdom, and the decree of an Antef belonging to the latter part of the Middle Kingdom, deposing the monarch for siding with the king’s enemy.