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The Ankh is a symbol of life that goes back to the pharaohs (see top insert). At some point in the early centuries AD it morphed into a crucifix, a symbol of the new religion, Christianity.

It is said that St. Mark brought an early form of Christianity to Alexandria, Egypt in the first half of the first century. It soon became a popular area for other Christians who wanted to avoid martyrdom at the hands of the Romans. They were dubbed Coptic. In modern Egypt, Coptic Christians make up about 15% of the population.