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E04141: Coptic ostracon from Edfu/Apollonopolis (Upper Egypt) with a letter of a bishop Moyses, urging his addressee to gather the (monastic) congregation at the 'place' of Apa *Kyrikos (presumably the child martyr of Tarsus, S00007); datable to the 7th century.

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posted on 2017-10-12, 00:00 authored by gschenke
O.EdfouIFAO (= O. EdfouCopte) 18

Bishop Moyses sending this message to the presbyter Joseph seems to ask for the (monastic?) community to be summoned to the shrine of Kyrikos where he presumably intended to offer a morning sermon for them.

The text makes use of the word ma (‘place’), the Coptic equivalent of the Greek word topos, which can refer to either a monastery or a shrine. The editor of the text suggested that Joseph was to gather all the monks at the monastery (ma). But since this would be the place where they presumably resided, they would be gathered there already, so that any extra requested gathering was most likely to take place at the shrine, the place where the bishop would offer his sermon.

ⲙⲁⲣⲉ ⲧⲉⲕ-
ⲙⲛⲧϣⲏⲣⲉ ⲥⲱ-
ⲟⲩϩ ⲛⲉⲥⲛⲏⲩ ⲧⲏⲣⲟⲩ
ⲉⲡⲙⲁ ⲛⲁⲡⲁ ⲕⲩⲣⲓⲕⲟⲥ
ⲛⲧⲁⲁⲥⲡⲁⲍⲉ ⲙⲙⲟⲟⲩ ⲛ-
[ϣ]ⲟⲣⲡ ⲛⲣⲁⲥⲧⲉ
ⲧⲁⲁⲥ ⲛⲓⲱⲥⲏⲫ ⲡⲡⲣ(ⲉⲥⲃⲩⲧⲉⲣⲟⲥ)
ϩⲓⲧⲛ ⲙⲱⲩⲥⲏⲥ ⲡⲉⲗⲁⲭ(ⲓⲥⲧⲟⲥ)

‘May your sonship gather all the brothers at the place of Apa Kyrikos, and I may address/greet them tomorrow morning.
Give it (the message) to Joseph, the presbyter, from Moyses, the most humble bishop.’

(Text: S. Bacot; trans.: G. Schenke)


Evidence ID


Saint Name

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

Saint Name in Source

ⲁⲡⲁ ⲕⲩⲣⲓⲕⲟⲥ

Type of Evidence

Documentary texts - Letter Late antique original manuscripts - Ostracon/Pot-sherd


  • Coptic

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Egypt and Cyrenaica

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


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

Edfu Hermopolis ϣⲙⲟⲩⲛ Ashmunein Hermopolis

Cult activities - Liturgical Activity

  • Service for the Saint

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - monastic


The ostracon is currently kept at the IFAO in Cairo. Its dating is based on the context, as the ostracon was found together with many others, one of them being a liturgical calendar giving entries for the years 643–648.


Text and French translation: Bacot, S., Ostraca grecs et coptes des fouilles franco-polonaises sur le site de Tell Edfou. O. EdfouCopte 1-145 (Bibliothèque d'Études Coptes 19; Cairo, 2009), 40.

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