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E00161: Two Coptic documents from the Theban area of Upper Egypt testifying to a monastery and clergy of *Menas (soldier and martyr of Abu Mena, S00073); datable to the 7th/8th c.

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posted on 2014-11-08, 00:00 authored by Bryan
P.KRU 75

The will of Jacob and Elias, heads of the monastery of Epiphanios at Thebes, mid 7th c., in which a monk and presbyter of the holy topos of Apa Mena on the mountain of Jeme was asked to act as scribe and witness for the document:

lines 135–137: ⲁⲛⲟⲕ ⲅⲉⲱⲣⲅⲓⲟⲥ ⲡϣⲏⲣⲉ ⲙⲡⲁⲧⲉⲣⲙⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲡⲉⲓⲉⲗⲁⲭ(ⲓⲥⲧⲟⲥ) ⲙⲙⲟⲛⲟⲭⲟⲥ ⲁⲩⲱ ⲙⲡⲣⲉⲥⲃ(ⲩⲧⲉⲣⲟⲥ) ⲡⲁⲣⲁ ⲡⲁⲙⲡϣⲁ
ⲙⲡⲧⲟⲡⲟⲥ ⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ ⲛⲁⲡⲁ ⲙⲏⲛⲁ ϩⲓ ⲡⲧⲟⲟⲩ ⲛϫⲏⲙⲉ

'I, George, the son of Patermoute, the least monk and presbyter beyond my worth, of the holy topos of Apa Mena on the mountain of Djeme.'

KOW 294

Ostrakon with a letter from Jeme, 7th/8th century, mentioning a steward of saint Menas.

lines 12–14: ⲡⲁⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲡⲇⲓⲁⲕ(ⲟⲛⲟⲥ) ϩⲓⲧⲛ ⲑⲉⲟⲇⲱⲥⲓⲟⲥ ⲡⲉⲕⲱⲛⲟⲙⲟⲥ ⲙⲫⲁⲅⲓⲟⲥ ⲙⲏⲛⲁⲥ

'Papnouthe, the deacon, through Theodosios, the oikonomos of Saint Menas'.

Translation: Gesa Schenke


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Menas, soldier and martyr Abu Mena : S00073

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Documentary texts - Ostraka Documentary texts - Papyri


  • Coptic

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Egypt and Cyrenaica Egypt and Cyrenaica

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Djeme Deir el-Bahari

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Djeme Hermopolis ϣⲙⲟⲩⲛ Ashmunein Hermopolis Deir el-Bahari Hermopolis ϣⲙⲟⲩⲛ Ashmunein Hermopolis

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - unspecified


KOW 294 is written on an ostracon, P.KRU 75 on papyrus.


Both documents come from the region around Djeme and mention clergy and monks of Menas. Only one text (O.Crum 45), see E05973, refers explicitly to a church of Apa Mena for which a certain deacon is to care. One document (KRU 75) refers to a monastery of Apa Mena located on the mountain of Djeme. The other two mention an oikonomos (KOW 294) and a presbyter (CLT 9) of Saint (Apa) Mena(s), see E04366. These could very well refer to the same monastery of Apa Mena, though this cannot be taken for granted. Even the church mentioned in O.Crum 45 might be the church of the monastery of Apa Mena, but again can not be claimed with any certainty. Whether or not these documents refer to the same topos remains unclear, but the fact that clergy are mentioned in connection with any of these establishments is ample evidence that a cult for Menas was indeed active in the Theban area in the 7th–8th century.


Editions: Crum, W.E., Coptic Ostraca from the Collections of the Egypt Exploration Fund (London, 1902). = O.Crum Crum, W.E., The Monastery of Epiphanius at Thebes, vol. II (reprint Milan, 1977), 343–348, plate 16 (P.Epiph.). Crum, W.E, and Steindorff, G., Koptische Rechtsurkunden des achten Jahrhunderts aus Djeme (Theben) (Leipzig: J.C. Hinrichs, 1912). = KRU Till, W.C., Die koptischen Ostraka der Papyrussammlung der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek (Vienna: H. Böhlaus, 1960). = KOW Till, W.C., Die koptischen Rechtsurkunden aus Theben (Vienna: H. Böhlaus, 1964). = KRU Further reading: Papaconstantinou, A., Le culte des saints en Égypte des Byzantins aux Abbassides (Paris: CNRS, 2001), 146–149 (full range of documentary evidence on Menas, 146-54).

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity