Wilhelm Hammerschmidt - 'Coptic Houses' (Photograph 1860)
The Copts are the native Egyptian Christians and the largest Christian group there. Christianity was the majority religion during the 4th to 6th centuries AD and until the Muslim conquest of Egypt and remains the faith of a significant minority population. Historically they spoke the Coptic language, a direct descendant of the Demotic Egyptian spoken in the Roman era, but it has been near-extinct and mostly limited to liturgical use since the 18th century. They now speak Arabic.