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E04181: Coptic ostracon from western Thebes (Upper Egypt) with a letter mention the copying of books for a monastery/shrine (topos) of an unnamed saint (S00518); 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 651:

In this letter from a presbyter named Paul to his spiritual father Joseph, Paul announces the copying of books for the topos among which could well have been hagiographical manuscripts.

⳨ ⲁⲛⲟⲕ ⲡⲣⲉⲥⲃⲩⲧⲉⲣⲟⲥ
ⲡⲁⲩⲗⲟⲥ ⲡϣⲓⲛⲙⲡⲥⲁ-
ⲭⲱ ⲉⲧⲥϩⲁ ⲙⲡⲁⲙⲉ-
ⲣⲓⲧ ⲛⲉⲓⲱⲧ ⲓⲱⲥⲏⲫ
ϫⲉ <ⲉ>ⲡⲧⲉ ⲁ<ⲉ> ⲉϩⲟⲩⲛ ⲛⲏ.
ⲙⲛ ⲁⲡⲁ ⲡⲁⲩⲗⲟⲥ
ⲁⲓⲕⲱⲃ ⲉⲛϫⲱⲱ[ⲙⲉ]
. . . 

ⲧⲁⲁⲥ <ⲛ>ⲓⲱⲥⲏⲫ
ϩⲓⲧⲛ ⲡⲁⲩⲗⲟⲥ
ⲕⲁⲓ ⲅⲁⲣ ⲡⲧⲟⲡⲟⲥ
ⲣⲭⲣⲓⲁ ⲛⲏⲩ
ϣⲗⲏⲗ ⲉϫⲱⲓ

‘It is I, Paul, the presbyter, the son of Psacho, who writes to my beloved father Joseph.
Since I came to you (?) and Apa Paulos, I have made duplicates for the books … (as agreed?) …
Give it (the message) to Joseph, from Paulos, (the son) of Psacho, because the topos needs them (the books).
Pray for us.’

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


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Unnamed saints (or name lost) : S00518

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

Transmission, copying and reading saint-related texts


The ostracon inv. O.292528 is a fragment of an amphora written on both side. 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), 358.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity