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E04173: Coptic ostracon from western Thebes (Upper Egypt) with a letter invoking *Sergios (perhaps the soldier and martyr of Rusafa, S00023) and *Mark (presumably the Evangelist, S00293), as well as all the saints (S00518) for protection; datable to the first half of the 8th century.

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posted on 2017-10-19, 00:00 authored by dlambert, gschenke
O.Frange 98:

In this letter the monk Frange is asking a community of monks to send him some wine through the person who will deliver his message to them. He entreats them to do this kind act, since he is ill, and invokes Sergios and Mark to whom monasteries are dedicated in the vicinity to pray for them all, wishing for his addressees to be protected from any evil through the prayers of the saints.

[ⲓ(ⲏⲥⲟⲩ)ⲥ ⲡⲉ]ⲭ(ⲣⲓⲥⲧⲟ)ⲥ ⲛⲁ ⲛⲁⲛ ⲛⲁⲅⲁⲡⲏ ϩⲁⲙⲏⲛ
[⳨ ⲁⲛⲟⲕ ϥ]ⲣⲁⲛⲅⲉ ⲡⲣⲙ ⲡⲉⲧⲉⲙⲟⲩ̣ⲧ̣
[ⲡⲣⲉϥⲣⲛⲟ]ⲃ̣ⲉ̣ ⲉⲧⲟⲩⲏϩ ϩⲙ ⲡⲧⲟⲟⲩ ⲛϫⲏⲙⲉ
[ⲉ]ϥ̣ⲥϩⲁ ⲛⲧⲉϥϭⲓϫ ⲛⲁⲛⲉϥⲙⲉⲣⲁⲧⲉ
ⲛⲥⲛⲏⲩ ⲉⲧⲁ[ⲛⲓ]ⲧ ⲁⲩⲱ ⲙ̣ⲙ̣ⲁ̣ⲓ̣ⲛ̣ⲟ̣ⲩⲧⲉ
ϫⲉ ϯ ⲡⲁⲣⲁⲕⲁⲗⲓ ⲛⲧⲉⲧⲛⲁⲅⲁⲡⲏ ϫⲉ ⲛ-
ⲑⲉ ⲉⲧⲉⲡⲁⲥⲟⲛ ⲑⲱⲙⲁⲥ ⲛⲏ̣ⲩ̣ ⲛ̣ⲏ̣ⲧⲛ
ⲙⲛ ⲧⲉⲡⲗⲁⲝ ⲛⲧⲁⲙⲛⲧⲉⲗⲁⲭⲓⲥⲧⲟⲥ ⲉⲧⲃⲉ
ⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲙⲛ ⲡⲟⲩϫⲁ ⲛⲧⲉⲧⲛⲯⲩⲭⲏ ⲙⲛ
ⲛⲉⲧⲛⲧⲃⲛⲟⲟⲩⲉ ⲛⲧⲉⲧⲛϯ ⲟⲩⲏⲣⲡ
ⲛ̣ⲁ̣ϥ̣ ⲉ̣ⲛⲁⲛⲟⲩϥ ⲛϥⲛⲧϥ ⲛ̣ⲁ̣ⲓ̣ ϫⲉ ⲧⲉ-
ⲭⲣⲓⲁ ⲧⲉ ϫⲉ ⲉϣⲱⲛⲉ ⲙⲡⲣ-
ⲥ̣ⲧ̣ⲟ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ϫⲉⲕⲁⲥ ⲉ̣ⲣ̣ⲉ̣ⲡϫⲟⲉⲓⲥ
ⲥⲙⲟⲩ ⲉⲣⲱⲧⲛ ⲛϥϩⲁⲣⲉϩ ⲉⲣⲱⲧⲛ
ⲙ̣ⲛ̣ ⲛ̣ⲉ̣ⲧ̣ⲛⲧⲃⲛⲟⲟⲩⲉ ϩⲁⲙⲏⲛ
Ὁ Ἅγιος Σέργιος
Ὁ Ἅγιος Μᾶρκος
ⲁⲣⲓ ⲧⲁⲅⲁⲡⲏ ⲛⲅϣⲗⲏⲗ
ⲉϫⲱⲛ ⲛⲁⲅⲁⲡⲏ

‘Jesus Christ kindly have mercy on us. Amen!
[I,] Frange, the man from Petemout, [the sinner] who lives on the mountain of Jeme, he writes with his own hand to his beloved, bearing and pious brothers.
I am entreating your kindness. In the manner in which my brother Thomas comes to you with the (limestone) tablet of my utmost humility, on account of God and on account of the well being of your soul and your animals, give him good wine and he brings it to me, for it is necessary, because I am ill.
Do not turn me down, so that God will bless you and protect you and your animals. Amen.
Saint Sergios! Saint Mark! (in Greek)
Be so kind and pray for us affectionately. Amen.’

Lines 1–7 of the verso read as follows:

⳨ ⲁⲛⲟⲕ ϥ̣ⲣ̣ⲁ̣ⲛ̣ⲅ̣ⲉ̣ -ca.?-
ⲉ̣ϥ̣ϣ̣ⲓ̣ⲛ̣ⲉ̣ -ca.?-
ⲁⲩⲱ ⲡ̣ -ca.?- ⲉⲙⲁⲧⲉ
ϩⲙ̣ ⲡ̣ⲁ̣ⲣⲱⲙⲉ ⲉⲧϩⲓϩⲟⲩⲛ ⲡⲁϫⲟⲉⲓⲥ ⲓ(ⲏⲥⲟⲩ)ⲥ ⲡⲉⲭ(ⲣⲓⲥⲧⲟ)ⲥ ⲙ̣ⲛ̣
ⲛⲉϣⲗⲏⲗ ⲛⲛⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ ⲧⲏⲣⲟⲩ ⲉ̣ⲩ̣ⲉ̣ⲥ̣ⲙ̣ⲟ̣ⲩ̣
ⲉⲣⲱⲧⲛ ⲛⲥⲉⲣⲟⲉⲓⲥ ⲉⲣⲱⲧⲛ ⲉⲡⲉⲑⲟⲟⲩ ⲛⲓⲙ
ⲛⲁⲥⲛⲏⲩ ⲛⲣⲉϥⲣ[ -ca.?- ]

‘I, Frange, … he is saluting … and … very much.
Through my man (i.e. Thomas who is sent to deliver the message?) who is within my Lord Jesus Christ and (through) the prayers of all the saints, you shall be blessed and protected against any evil, my […] brothers […].’

(Text: A. Boud'hors and Ch. Heurtel; trans.: G. Schenke)

A complete record of the text is available at:;;98


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Sergios, soldier and martyr of Rusafa : S00023 Mark the Evangelist : S00293 Unnamed saints (or name lost) : S00518

Saint Name in Source

Σέργιος Μᾶρκος

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 Egypt and Cyrenaica

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Thebes Jeme

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

Thebes Hermopolis ϣⲙⲟⲩⲛ Ashmunein Hermopolis Jeme Hermopolis ϣⲙⲟⲩⲛ Ashmunein Hermopolis

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - monastic

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs



The ostracon inv. O. 290840 is a limestone fragment inscribed on both sides. It was found during a season of the Belgian excavation at the Theban necropolis. It is part of the archive of the monk Frange who inhabited the tomb of Amenemope (TT29) in the Valley of the Kings.


Text and French translation: Boud'hors, A., and Heurtel, C., Les ostraca coptes de la TT 29. Autour du moine Frangé (Études d'archéologie thébaine 3; Brussels, 2010), 98–99.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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