, Ptol. 4.5.73
, Plut. de Is. et Osir
. 100.14), in hieroglyphics Κοβτο,
the modern Kouft
was the principal city of the nome Coptites in the Upper Thebaid, the Thebais Secunda of the Itineraries.
It was situated in lat. 26° N., on the right bank of the Nile, and about a mile in distance from the river.
In the immediate neighbourhood of Coptos a valley opened to the south-east leading to the porphyry-quarries in the Arabian desert, and to Berenice (Cosseir
) on the Red Sea. When in B.C. 266, Ptolemy Philadelphus constructed the town and harbour of Berenice, he erected also four public inns or watering places between his new city and Coptos, in order that the caravans might have convenient halting-places during their twelve days' journey through the eastern desert. From this epoch Coptos was enriched by the active commerce between Libya and Egypt, on the one part, and Arabia and India on the other, and the city continued to flourish, until it was nearly destroyed by the emperor Diocletian in A.D. 292.
It survived however this calamity; and remained a considerable place down to the latest period of the Roman empire.
In the reign of Justinian, in the first half of the 7th century A. D., Coptos for a brief interval bore the name of Justinianopolis. (Notit. Eccles.
) Coptos being comparatively a modern town of the Thebaid possesses no monuments of the Pharaonic era.
In the church, however, which the Christian population of the present Kouft
have built, are imbedded stones inscribed with the ovals of Thothmes III. and Nectanebus. [p. 1.667]
(Wilkinson. Mod. Egypt and Thebes,
ii. p. 123.) Neither, as might have been expected from its origin, does it exhibit any remarkable Hellenic remains.
The principal objects of interest there are the ruins of Roman buildings.
The neighbouring hills contained emeralds and a few other precious stones: and the vineyards produced a thin and not much esteemed wine, which, however, from its lightness of body was administered in febrile disorders. (Aelian, H. An.
7.18; Athen. 1.33
; Plin. Nat. 37.17