Dumyat

DUMYAT

A city in the northeastern part of the Nile Delta just west of Lake al-Manzalah. Dumyat was the seat of a bishop at least as early as 431 when Bishop Herakleides of Tamiathis/ Dumyat took part in the First Council of EPHESUS (Munier, 1943, p. 17). In 459 Bishop Elpidios of Tamiathis signed the judgment against Eutychius (Munier, 1943, p. 23), and in 553 Bishop Bassos represented the city at the Second Council of CONSTANTINOPLE (Le Quien, 1958, Vol. 2, p. 589).

The Coptic community in the city of Dumyat seems to have remained intact during the Arabic conquest, for Bishop Piamot of Dumyat provided great support for the Alexandrian patriarchate in the reign of ISAAC (686-689). Barely forty years later, however, the city was declared heretical. In the patriarchate of ALEXANDER II (705-730), Bishop of Sa reunited the heretical churches of Dumyat, Bana, Abusir, Samannud, and Rashid with the main Coptic church. Under authorization from the Islamic authorities, John had informed the Christian inhabitants of these cities that they would have to pay a double poll tax if they remained separate from the main body of the church. The threat was certainly a motivating factor in their reunion.

There is no evidence to indicate that the Coptic inhabitants of Dumyat suffered in the various attempts of the Byzantines to capture the city in the first half of the eighth century. But in the renewed attacks of the Greeks in the ninth century Copts as well as Muslims were subdued and captured. Then, in the persecutions of Al- around 1010, the Church of the Virgin Mary in Dumyat, generally considered one of the most beautiful churches in the world, was destroyed and a mosque was built on the site. The Crusaders also inflicted heavy damage on the city in the eleventh through thirteenth centuries, but shortly after their departure in 1221, Bishop Christodoulos of Dumyat regathered the members of his church and led them to prosperity.

In 1249, the Crusader Louis IX, king of France, captured and destroyed Dumyat. The new Dumyat was later rebuilt to the south of its former location, and the city continued to be the seat of a bishop.

Around 1300 Bishop Mark administered in the diocese of Ashmun and Dumyat. He was present at the selection of the patriarch VII (Muyser, 1944, p. 155). From at least 1320 until 1330 the metropolitan served as bishop of Dumyat (Munier, pp. 38-39).

Dumyat was known in ancient times as an important center for the production of quality textiles and the copying of manuscripts. Mikha’il (end of the eleventh to the beginning of the twelfth century), one of the most famous bishops of the city, wrote and copied a number of manuscripts himself. Manuscripts were still being copied in Dumyat as late as 1769 (Graf, 1918, p. 139).

Around 1450 Al-MAQRIZI reported that there were in Dumyat churches of Saint George, Saint the Baptist, the Virgin Mary, and Saint Michael. In the seventeenth century, J. M. Vansleb wrote that there were about two hundred Greek families in Dumyat, but only about eight Coptic families. He said that the Turks had confiscated the Copts’ church because the Copts had not paid the taxes (1678, p. 68).

BIBLIOGRAPHY

  • Amélineau, E. La Géographie de l’Egypte à l’époque copte, pp. 116-17. Paris, 1893.
  • Graf, G. “Katalog christlich-arabischer in Jerusalem.”  Christianus, n.s., 7-8 (1918):133-46.
  • Le Quien, M. Christianus, 3 vols. Graz, 1958. Reprint of the Paris edition, 1740.
  • Munier, H. Recueil des listes épiscopales de l’église copte. Cairo, 1943.
  • Muyser, J. “Contribution à l’étude des listes épiscopales de l’église copte.” de la Société d’archéologie copte 10 (1944):115-76.
  • Porcher, E., ed. Vie d’Isaac, patriarche d’Alexandrie de 686 à 689. PO 11, pt. 3. Paris, 1915.
  • Timm, S. Christliche Stätten in Ägypten, pp. 81-82. Wiesbaden, 1979.
  • ___. Das christlich-koptische Ägypten in arabischer Zeit, pt, 2, pp. 530-38. Wiesbaden, 1984.
  • Vansleb, J. M. The Present State of Egypt. London, 1678.

RANDALL STEWART