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E04174: Coptic ostracon from western Thebes (Upper Egypt) with a letter referring to a 'place' of *Isael (S01707); datable to the first half of the 8th century.

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posted on 2017-10-19, 00:00 authored by gschenke
O.Frange 213

In this complete letter, the monk Frange writes to Pson and Papas explaining that he sent a decently expensive garment for Pson's daughter as requested and sent it in good condition. He refers to the 'place' of Isael, the saint, as the one where he received this request. The 'place' in question might be a monastery of Isael who might be the abbot and thus be referred to as a living saint or holy man. But it could also be a shrine of an otherwise seemingly unattested saint Isael.

⳨ ⲁⲛⲟⲕ ϥⲣⲁⲛⲅⲉ ⲉϥ-
ⲥϩⲁ ⲉϥϣⲓⲛⲉ· ⲉⲛⲉϥⲙⲉ-
ⲣⲁⲧⲉ ⲛⲥⲛⲏⲩ· ⲡⲥⲟⲛ ⲙⲛ ⲡⲁ-
ⲡⲁⲥ ⲙⲛ ⲭⲁⲣⲓⲥⲓⲉ ⲙⲛ ⲛⲉⲥ-
ϣⲉⲉⲣⲉ ϯϣⲓⲛⲉ ⲟⲛ· ⲉⲛⲉⲧⲛⲣⲱⲙⲉ
ⲧⲏⲣⲟⲩ ⲕⲁⲧⲁ ⲛⲉⲩⲣⲁⲛ ϩⲙ ⲡϫⲟⲉⲓⲥ
ⲭⲁⲓⲣⲉⲧⲉ· ⲉⲡⲓⲇⲏ ⲁⲡⲁⲙⲉⲣⲓⲧ
ⲛϣⲃⲉⲣ ⲡⲥⲟⲛ ϫⲟⲟⲥ ⲛⲁ ϩⲓ ⲡⲧⲟⲟⲩ
ⲙⲁ ⲛⲡⲁⲉⲓⲱⲧ ⲍ̣ⲁⲏⲗ ⲡϩⲁⲅⲓⲟⲥ ϫⲉ
ⲥⲉⲛⲁⲩ· ⲟⲩϣⲧⲏⲛ ⲛϩⲃⲟⲟⲥ ⲛⲧⲁ-
ϣⲉⲉⲣⲉ ϣⲏⲙ· ⲉⲓⲥ ϩⲏⲏⲧⲉ· ⲁϥⲓ
ⲡⲉⲥⲣⲟⲟⲩϣ ⲁϫⲟⲟⲩⲥ ⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ
ⲡⲉⲧⲥⲟⲟⲩⲛ ⲁⲧⲓ ⲟⲩⲕⲉⲣⲁ-
ⲧ̣ⲥⲉ ϩⲁⲣⲟⲥ ⲙⲡⲓϭⲛⲧⲥ ⲉⲥ̣-
ϭⲟⲛⲥ ⲛⲕⲏⲉⲧⲓ
ⲟⲩϫⲁ ϩⲙ ⲡϫⲟⲉⲓⲥ

‘I am Frange who writes greeting his beloved brothers, Pson and Papas, together with Charisie and her children. I also greet all your people according to their names in the Lord, greetings.
Since my beloved friend Pson told me on the mountain, (at) the place of my father Isael, the saint: "A linen garment is needed for my young daughter." Behold, I took care of it. I sent it. It is God who knows that I paid a carat for it. I have not found it damaged (ripped?) at all.
Farewell in the Lord. ’

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

A complete record of the text is available at:;;213


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Isael, saint in the Theban area : S01707

Saint Name in Source

ⲍ̣ⲁⲏⲗ ⲡϩⲁⲅⲓⲟⲥ

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)

Thebes Hermopolis ϣⲙⲟⲩⲛ Ashmunein Hermopolis

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - monastic

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Visiting/veneration of living saint


The ostracon inv. O.292633 is a fragment of an amphora and 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), 171.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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