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E04201: Coptic ostracon from Jeme (Upper Egypt) with a letter mentioning a visit to the shrine (topos) of Apa *Phoibammon (soldier and martyr of Assiut, S00080) for the purpose of praying there; datable to the 7th/8th century.

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posted on 2017-10-22, 00:00 authored by gschenke
O.Medin.Habu Copt. 153r:

The letter on the recto is addressed to a spiritual authority and relates a common visit to the shrine of Apa Phoibammon on a Saturday for the purpose of prayer. The sender of the letter seems to have been left alone at the shrine feeling pressured into doing something, asking the addressee for help in the matter.

⳨ . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
[ ϯⲡⲁⲣⲁⲕⲁⲗ]ⲉⲓ ⲛⲧⲉⲕ-
ⲙⲛⲧⲉⲓⲱⲧ ⲉⲡⲉⲓⲇⲏ ⲁⲕⲉⲓ
ⲉϩⲟⲩⲛ ⲉⲡⲧⲟⲡⲟⲥ ⲛⲁⲡⲁ ⲫⲟ-
ⲓⲃⲁⲙⲱⲛ ⲛⲙⲙⲁ ϩⲙ
ⲡⲥⲁⲃⲃⲁⲧⲟⲛ ⲙⲛ ⲛⲁⲥⲛⲏⲩ
ϩⲁ ⲡϩⲱⲃ ⲙⲡϣⲗⲏⲗ ⲙⲛ-
ⲛⲥⲱⲥ ⲁⲩⲃⲟⲗⲧ ⲛϩⲏⲧϥ
ϩⲓⲃⲟⲗ ⲛⲧⲉⲕⲙⲛⲧⲉⲓⲱⲧ
ⲙⲛⲛⲥⲱⲥ ⲟⲛ ⲁⲩⲟⲩⲱϣ
ⲉⲙⲟⲣⲧ ⲛⲕⲉⲥⲟⲡ ⲛ-
ⲥⲉⲉⲝⲁⲅⲉⲓ ⲙⲙⲟ<>
ⲉⲁⲩϫⲟⲟⲩ ⲁⲩⲛ

'… I am entreating your paternity. You have entered the shrine of Apa Phoibammon with me on Saturday together with my brothers for the purpose of the prayer. Afterwards, I was persuaded there without your paternity. And then again they wished to bind/oblige me another time, and they lead me out, whilst they were sending (for the presbyter?). They brought the presbyter …'

(Text: E. Stefanski and M. Lichtheim, trans.: G. Schenke)


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Phoibammon, soldier and martyr of Assiut (ob. c. 304) : S00080

Saint Name in Source

ⲁⲡⲁ ⲫⲟⲓⲃⲁⲙⲱⲛ

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)

Jeme Hermopolis ϣⲙⲟⲩⲛ Ashmunein Hermopolis

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - dependent (chapel, baptistery, etc.)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs



The ostracon MH 966, now in the Museum in Cairo, is a limestone fragment written on both sides. The dating is based on context and palaeography.


Text and translation: Stefanski, E., and Lichtheim, M., Coptic Ostraca from Medinet Habu (Univ. of Chicago. Oriental Institute Publications 71; Chicago, 1952), 24.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity