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E04198: Three Coptic ostraca from western Thebes (Upper Egypt) with writing exercises practising a formula referring to *Moses (presumably the Old Testament prophet and lawgiver, S00241) and *Aaron (presumably the Old Testament prophet, S01427) as holy among priests; datable to the first half of the 8th century.

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posted on 2017-10-22, 00:00 authored by gschenke
O.Frange 433

Model phrases for letter writing practised on three ostraca all include the same phrase concerning the sanctity of Moses and Aaron. Whether these were local saints/holy men with biblical names, or whether the phrase referred to the OT saints themselves remains unclear.

⳨ ϩⲁⲑⲏ ⲙⲉⲛ ⲛϩⲱⲃ ⲛⲓⲙ
ⲉⲥϩⲁ ⲉϣⲓⲛⲉ ⲉⲁⲥⲡⲁⲍⲉ
ⲛⲛⲁⲙⲉⲣⲁⲧⲉ ⲛⲥⲛⲏⲩ ⲙ-
ⲙⲁⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲙⲙⲁⲣⲱⲙⲉ
ⲙⲱⲩ ⲩ ⲩ
+ϩⲓⲧⲛ ϩⲁϩ ⲛ . . . . . .
ⲙⲱⲥⲏⲥ ⲙⲛ ⲁⲁⲣⲱⲛ ⲥⲉⲟⲩⲁ[ⲁⲃ]
ϩⲛ ⲛⲉϥⲟⲩⲏⲏⲃ

‘Before anything, I write greeting and saluting my beloved, pious and caring brothers.
From numerous …
Moyses and Aaron, they are holy among his priests.’

O.Frange 434

ⲙⲛ ⲁⲁⲣⲱⲛ ⲥⲉⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ
ϩⲛ ⲛⲉϥⲟⲩⲏⲏⲃ

‘Moyses and Aaron, they are holy among his priests.’

O.Frange 435:

Lines 5–6 of this ostracon with letter writing exercises read as follows:

ⲙⲱⲩⲥⲏⲥ ⲙⲛ ⲁⲁⲣⲱⲛ

‘Moyses and Aaron, they are holy.’

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


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Moses, Old Testament prophet and lawgiver : S00241 Aaron, Old Testament prophet : S01427

Saint Name in Source

ⲙⲱⲩⲥⲏⲥ ⲙⲱⲥⲏⲥ ⲁⲁⲣⲱⲛ

Type of Evidence

Documentary texts - Other private document 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



The ostraca inv. O.291782 and inv.O.291891 are fragments of an amphora; inv. O.292130 is a fragment of fine ceramic Egyptian Red Slip A. All three documents were 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), 277–278.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity