Medieval Naming Guides: Coptic and Nubian

Coptic and Nubian Names

Egypt

A Greek-speaking dynasty, the Ptolemies, ruled Egypt from the death of Alexander the Great until Egypt became part of the Roman empire. Egypt remained a Roman, and later Byzantine, province until it was conquered by the Arabs in the seventh century. The Greek language was used in Egypt for administrative purposes throughout the period of Roman and Byzantine rule. For more information about classical Greek and Byzantine names, see the Greek and Byzantine section of the Medieval Names Archive.

The Coptic language is related to ancient Egyptian, but written in a script derived from the Greek alphabet. Coptic was the primary language of the Egyptian Christian church.

After the Arabs conquered Egypt, Arabic became the language of administration. As more and more people converted to Islam, Arabic became the dominant language in Egypt, and the use of Coptic declined. For information about Arabic and Islamic names, see the Islamic section of the Medieval Names Archive.

Nubia

Medieval Nubia was a region corresponding to southern Egypt and northern Sudan. Nubia was divided into several kingdoms, and had a complicated political history. The region was slow to convert to Christianity: it remained predominantly Christian until the sixth century AD. Though the Nubian kings paid tribute to the Arab rulers of Egypt for several hundred years, they remained independent until conquered in the fourteenth century.

The Greek, Coptic, and Old Nubian languages were all used as languages of record in medieval Nubia until the Islamic conquest.

Coptic and Nubian Names

Trismegistos People
This database lists names of people in Egypt between c. 800 BC and c. 800 AD, with a focus on about the third century BC-sixth century AD.

Academy of Saint Gabriel Report 2549
A list of Coptic masculine names.

Nubian Names from Coptic and Greek Inscriptions, by Ursula Georges and Aryanhwy merch Catmael
A brief list of feminine given names from medieval Christian Nubia, taken from inscriptions written in Coptic.


The Medieval Names Archive is published by the Academy of Saint Gabriel and Sara L. Uckelman. It was historically published by Joshua Mittleman.
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