The following is a photo of a linen and wool screen curtain (velum) that comes from a monastery at Antinoë (Antinopolis), Egypt, and dates from the 5th-6th century. It is likely an artifact of the early Coptic Christians. It depicts a praying couple beneath an apse in a church or temple, with a Coptic inscription written in Greek script underneath. The apse of a church building is near the east end, where the altar is located. There are columns on the left and right, perhaps symbolizing Boaz and Jachin, pillars that flanked the entrance in the porch of Solomon’s Temple, and have come to symbolize the temple ever since. The figures are dressed in liturgical clothing, including what appears to be a mitre, a veil, and robes, and in the traditional early Christian attitude of prayer with uplifted hands. Size: 1.05 x 0.86 m. It is located at the Benaki Museum, Athens. (Thanks Chad!)
The Encyclopedia Britannica reports what is speculated to be the origin of the letter “E” in our modern alphabet:
The letter E may have started as a picture sign of a man with arms upraised, as in Egyptian hieroglyphic writing (1) and in a very early Semitic writing used in about 1500 BC on the Sinai Peninsula (2). The sign meant “joy” or “rejoice” to the Egyptians. In about 1000 BC, in Byblos and in other Phoenician and Canaanite centers, the sign was given a linear form (3), the source of all later forms. . . . (( “E, e.” Student’s Encyclopædia. 2008. Britannica Student Encyclopædia. 17 Feb. 2008. <http://student.britannica.com/comptons/article-9274097>.))
Wikipedia corroborates the same source:
E is derived from the Greek letter epsilon which is much the same in appearance (Ε, ε) and function. In etymology, the Semitic hê probably first represented a praying or calling human figure (hillul jubilation), and was probably based on a similar Egyptian hieroglyph that was pronounced and used quite differently. In Semitic, the letter represented /h/ (and /e/ in foreign words), in Greek hê became Εψιλον (Epsilon) with the value /e/. Etruscans and Romans followed this usage. ((“E”. Wikipedia. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E>.))
The more I learn the more I’m convinced of Nibley’s striking statement, “All the arts and sciences began at the temple. Dance, music, architecture, sculpture, drama, and so forth—they all go back to the temple” ((Nibley, Hugh, and Gary P. Gillum. Of all Things!: Classic Quotations from Hugh Nibley. 2nd, rev. and expand ed. Salt Lake City, Utah; Provo, Utah: Deseret Book Co.; Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1993, 45)).