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E03663: Record of the settlement of a dispute by arbitration, written in Greek on papyrus, mentioning the practice of swearing oaths (horkoi) of innocence at the oratory (euages eukterion) of *Kyrikos (child martyr of Tarsus, S00007) in Kastron Zadakathon, near Petra. Found in Petra, drafted in Kastron Zadakathon/Sadaqa (Roman province of Palaestina III). Dated 574.

online resource
posted on 2017-09-02, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
lines 475-485:

π̣ερὶ δὲ τῆς [ὕ]̣λ̣η̣ς
καὶ τῆς λ[ι]̣θίας καὶ τῶν θυρωμάτω̣ν καὶ τοῦ παρορισμοῦ ὅπερ ἐνήγαγεν
̣ὁ ̣θ̣ε̣οσεβέστ(ατος) Θεόδωρος Ὀ̣β̣ο̣δ̣ι̣ανοῦ ὁ μνημονευθεὶς ἔδ̣οξεν τὸν εὐλαβέστ(ατον
Στέφανον Λεοντίου ὅ̣ρκον ὑποτελέσαι Θεοδώρῳ τῷ προειρ̣η̣μ̣έ̣ν̣ῳ
ἐν τῷ ε̣ὐ̣αγεῖ εὐκτηρίῳ τ̣ο[ῦ ἁ]γίου καὶ ἐνδόξου μάρτυρος Κηρύκου τ̣οῦ
̣ἐνταῦ̣θα ἐ̣ν ̣Ζ̣α̣δακάθο[ν] καὶ εἰπεῖν ὅτι μὰ τ̣ὰς ἁγίας γραφὰς ταύτ̣ας
ὅτι οὐκ οἶδα ̣οὐ σύνοιδα ὅτι ἐπέρθη ἐ̣κ τῆς ̣ὕλης καὶ λιθίας καὶ θυρωμ̣ά̣τ̣ω̣ν
τῆς σῆς οἰ̣κήσεως τίπο̣τ̣ε οὔτε οἶδα εἰς παρορισμὸν τῆς αὐτῆς
οἰκήσε̣ως, καὶ ̣ἐ[ὰ]̣ν [ὁμο]̣λ̣ογήσαι εἰς τίποτε αὐτὸν ἀπο̣λογήσασθαι
Θε̣οδώρῳ Ὀβοδιανοῦ τῷ εὐλαβεστ(άτῳ) αὐτοῦ λαμβάννοντος παρ' αὐ̣τ[ο]̣ῦ
Θεοδ̣ώρου πρõτον ̣τὸν περὶ τῆς ἐπερίας ὅρκον

'Concerning the timber and stone and doors and the encroachment, of which the aforementioned most God-fearing Theodoros, son of Obodianos, had brought an accusation, it was decided that the most reverend Stephanos, son of Leontios, shall swear an oath (horkos) to the above-mentioned Theodoros in the sacred oratory (euages eukterion) of the holy and glorious martyr Kyrikos here in Zadakatha, and say that "by these Holy Scriptures, I do not know nor am I aware that anything has been taken of the timber and stone and doors of your house, neither do I know of any encroachment into the same house", and if he assents, he has made his defense against everything before the most reverend Theodoros, son of Obodianos, first taking from Theodoros himself the oath of calumny (horkos eperias).'

lines 485-495:

περὶ δὲ τῶν
δύο νομισμάτων ὅπερ ἐνήγαγεν Στέφανος Λεοντίου τῷ εὐλαβεστ(άτῳ)
Θεοδώρῳ λέγ̣ο[ν ὅτ]ι ἔδοξεν δο̣ῦναι Λεοντίῳ τῷ μακαρ(ιωτάτῳ) αὐτοῦ πατρὶ
̣ὕ̣πὲρ τῆς ἀμπ̣έ̣λ[ο]̣υ ̣ὡ̣ς κ̣ατηλήμφθη ὑπὸ Ἀβοῦ Χερέβου τοῦ
φυλάρχου, ἔδοξ̣ε[ν] ̣Θ̣ε̣ό̣δ̣ω̣ρ̣ο̣ν [τὸν εὐλαβ]̣έ̣σ̣τ(ατον) ὅρκον ὑποτε̣λ̣έ̣σ̣α̣ι Στεφάνῳ
τῷ εὐλαβεστ(άτῳ) ἐν ̣τ̣ῷ [εὐαγε]ῖ ̣ε[ὐ]κτηρ̣ίῳ τοῦ ἁγίου καὶ ἐνδόξου μάρτυρος
Κηρύκου ̣κ̣αὶ εἰπ̣εῖν ̣ὅ̣τ̣ι ̣μ̣ὰ ̣τ̣ὰ̣ς γραφὰς τ̣α̣ύ̣τ̣α̣ς ὅτι οὐδήποτε ἔδοξέν μοι
οὐδὲ ἐτύπωσα δοῦναι τῷ μακαρ(ιωτάτῳ) σου πατρὶ ἕνηκεν το[ῦ] πράγματος
τῆς ἀμπέλου τί̣πο̣τ̣ε, καὶ ἐ̣ὰν ὁμολογήσαι ἐν τῷ ὅρκῳ αὐτὸν
εἰς τίποτε αὐτὸν πλ̣η̣ρ[ο]̣ῦ̣ν ̣Σ̣τ̣εφ̣άνῳ δῆλον αὐτοῦ Στεφάνου
π̣αρέχοντος Θεοδώ̣ρ̣ῳ ̣τ̣ὸ̣ν ̣περὶ τῆς προεπερίας ὅρκον

'Concerning the two solidi, of which Stephanos, son of Leontios, had brought an accusation against the most reverend Theodoros, when he said that (the latter) had promised to pay (them) to Leontios, his most blessed father, for the vineyard, as was decreed by the phylarch Abu Cherebos, it was decided that the most reverend Theodoros shall swear an oath (horkos) to the most reverend Stephanos in the [sacred] oratory (euages eukterion) of the holy and glorious martyr Kyrikos, and say that "by these Holy Scriptures, I never promised or decided to pay anything to your most blessed father because of the affair of the vineyard", and if he assents to the oath, it is clear that he has satisfied Stephanos in everything, when Stephanos himself has given to Theodoros the oath concerning calumny (horkos proeperias).'

Text: P.Petra IV 39. Translation: M. Kaimio, lightly adapted.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Kyrikos/Cyricus, child martyr of Tarsus (son of *Ioulitta/Julitta) : S00007

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Documentary texts - Other private document Late antique original manuscripts - Papyrus sheet


  • Greek

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Palestine with Sinai Palestine with Sinai

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Petra Kastron Zadakathon

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

Petra Caesarea Maritima Καισάρεια Kaisareia Caesarea Kayseri Turris Stratonis Kastron Zadakathon Caesarea Maritima Καισάρεια Kaisareia Caesarea Kayseri Turris Stratonis

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy Women Other lay individuals/ people Soldiers


A collection of carbonised papyri (c. 140 fragmentary rolls) was found in 1993, in Room 1 of the 'Petra Church' - an impressive three-aisled basilica with an atrium, three inscribed apses, baptistery and several annexed structures, sited to the north of the so-called Roman Street, and apparently dedicated to *Mary (as suggested by the papyrus evidence). Room 1 lies in the northeast corner of the complex, to the north of the northern side apse. It is presumed to have been a bedroom in a residential block (phase III: 363 – mid-5th c.), that was later converted to a store-room of religious or other precious items. The archaeologists excluded the possibility that it was a proper archive or scriptorium, as the room had no characteristic equipment. It was destroyed by fire, together with the church, probably in the early 7th c. The papyri were almost certainly kept in wooden containers (boxes? caskets?) in a shelved bookcase, standing against the west wall, which collapsed during the fire. The church was excavated between 1992 and 1997 by Pierre Bikai, on behalf of the American Center of Oriental Research. The papyri were extracted and secured by Catherine Valentour, aided by Deborah Kooring, Zbigniew Fiema, and others. They are now housed in Amman, in the American Center of Oriental Research and in the Jordan Museum. They are being published in the series The Petra Papyri by a team of papyrologists from Helsinki University and the University of Michigan. The first volume appeared in 2002, and was followed by vols. 2-4. The collection has recently been updated with a new volume (P. Petra V, published in 2018). This is the largest collection of papyri so-far found in Jordan. The earliest text dates to 537, the latest to c. 594. The papyri come from the archive of the family of one Theodoros, son of Obodianos, a local landowner and deacon (later archdeacon) of the Petra Church. The archive gives an important, albeit selective, overview of relationships, inheritance, donations, transactions, and disputes in Petra and its territory, especially the villages of Augustopolis/Udhruh and Kastron Zadakathon/Sadaqa. Toponyms (including churches and martyr shrines), and about 350 people, mainly of the upper class, are recorded, all of them for various reasons connected with the family of Theodoros.


The document is written on a papyrus scroll measuring 0.28 m x 6.20-6.50 m. This is one of the longest scrolls written transversa charta (at a ninety-degree angle to the fibres), ever recorded. The document is laid-out over 523 lines (including signatures) and records the settlement of a complex dispute (or rather a series of long-lasting, cross-generational disputes) between Theodoros, son of Obodianos, archdeacon of the Church of Petra, and Stephanos, son Leontios, deacon of the Church of Petra. The dispute is resolved by the arbitration of Theodoros, son of Alpheios, and Flavios Thomas, son of Boethos (apparently appointed by Theodoros and Stephanos). The parties agree to a penalty suggested by Hieros, son Thomallos. The arbitration took place in Kastron Zadakathon, at which place also the document was drafted. The editors restore the dispute as follows: Theodoros had a house in Kastron Zadakathon, neighboring the household of Stephanos. However, he was not a permanent resident of the village and apparently neglected the estate. Stephanos did some restoration or construction works and modified the rain water collection system, all this without the acknowledgement of Theodoros. A conflict arose which resulted in the renewal of previous quarrels, some of them already resolved in the 530s (?) after a mediation of the then bishop Sergios and the phylarch Abū Karib. The document also mentions a dispute over the inheritance from one Kassisaios and Georgia, connected to the division of the central courtyard with a building (termed mandra, literally 'sheepfold', translated as 'stable' by the editors), and of the refuse pit. The arbitration resulted in the division of the central courtyard and the refuse pit, and the parties are advised to build a dividing wall. Earlier rules for the conducting of water from the roofs are confirmed, and new rules for the division of rain water are established. Furthermore, Theodoros accuses Stephanos of the theft of building materials and encroachment whilst he was away and his house fell into decay. Theodoros adds that he had commissioned Stephanos to look after his house, but Stephanos took the opportunity to steal building-wood and stone blocks for himself. Some looting by soldiers of the local garrison is also implied. Finally, Stephanos renews an old quarrel about two solidi, reportedly promised by Theodoros to Stephanos' father, Leontios. This payment was apparently connected to an old dispute over a vineyard, and was possibly exchanged for permission to construct the new building in the courtyard, granted by Theodoros to Stephanos or his father. For the last two cases, the arbitrators decided to demand the parties swear oaths of innocence in the local shrine of the martyr Kyrikos, the child martyr of Tarsus. Apparently they had no other instruments to investigate the validity of the claims, as in other cases the decisions are made based on the evidence produced by the parties. In each case, before the oath of innocence is sworn, the opposing party is requested to swear the 'oath of calumny' (ἐπήρεια/iusiurandum calumniae), to prove that their claims were justified. The 'oath of calumny' was normally required in every lawsuit, and the emperor Justinian extended it to arbitration. Nothing indicates that the oath itself had anything to do specifically with the martyr Kyrikos. The formula is very general and the parties swear on the Holy Scriptures. The shrine was appointed either as the nearest holy place, or the nearest sanctuary housing any saint's tomb/reliquary, which might have been considered a better place for swearing an oath. The practice of swearing oaths in a martyr shrine resembles a story recounted by John of Ephesus, about the meeting of the Arab phylarch al-Mundhir (III) and the Roman general Justinianus, son of Germanus, in Rusafa at the tomb of the martyr *Sergios in 575, where they promised safety to each other (see E2073, Abū Karib mentioned in our text, was probably an uncle of that al-Mundhir). Lines 192-193 of the present document mention an earlier, reportedly fraudulent, oath sworn 'over the holy treasures'/ἔδωκεν ἐμοὶ άνέδραστ[ο]ν [καὶ ἄκαιρο]ν ὅρκον [ἐπὶ τ]ῶν ἁγίων κειμη[λ]ίων. These are unlikely to be relics. Probably liturgical vessels are meant. The papyrus P.Petra III 36 (lines 198-199) mentions 'the most dreadful oath' sworn in the name of the Holy Trinity. Dating: the document opens with a dating formula, which is in greater part lost. The date has, however, been plausibly restored by the editors based on several hints. The seventh indiction year, and a year of the era of the province of Arabia ending with the digit nine are mentioned. In the 6th c. these conditions are met by just four years: AD 514, 544, 574, and 604. As from other papyri we know that Theodoros became archdeacon after 559, and was highly unlikely to have lived up to 604, AD 574 is certain. The day is also specified: the 20th day of the month of Loos, which corresponds to 8 August.


Edition: Arjava, A., Buchholz, M., Gagos†, T., Kaimio, M. and others, The Petra Papyri IV (Amman: American Center of Oriental Research, 2011), no. 39 (lines 475-485 and 485-495). Further reading: Buchholz, M., "Juristiche Terminologie in P. Petra Inv. 83. Beobachtungen zur Rechtsgeschichte Petras und zur Wiedergabe des römischen Rechts in griechischer Sprache", in: J. Frosen, T. Purola, E. Salmenkivi, G. Ruffini (eds.), Proceedings of the 24th International Congress of Papyrology: Helsinki, 1-7 August, 2004 (Helsinki: Societas Scientarum Fennica, 2007), 111-128. For a description of the site, see: Fiema, Z.T., "The archaeological context of the Petra Papyri", in: P.M. Bikai, Z.T. Fiema (eds.), The Petra Church (Amman: American Center of Oriental Research, 2001), 139-150. Fiema, Z.T., "Reconstructing the history of the Petra Church: data and phasing", in: P.M. Bikai, Z.T. Fiema (eds.), The Petra Church (Amman: American Center of Oriental Research, 2001), 7-137. Fiema, Z.T., "Petra and its hinterland during the Byzantine period: new research and interpretations", in: J. Humphrey (ed.), Roman and Byzantine Near East: Some New Discoveries, vol. 3 (JRA Supplement Series 49, Portsmouth, Rhode Island: JRA, 2002), 191-252. Frösén, J., "Archaeological information from the Petra Papyri", Studies in the History and Archaeology of Jordan 8 (2004), 141-144. P.Petra I – Frösén, J., Arjava, A., Lehtinen, M. (eds.) with contributions by Z.T. Fiema, C.A. Kuehn, T. Purola, T. Rankinen, M. Vesterinen, and M. Vierros, The Petra Papyri (Amman: American Center of Oriental Research, 2002), 1-8.

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