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E04259: Coptic agreement from Hermopolis (Middle Egypt) concerning the employment of a sailor aboard a ship associated with or named after Apa *Severos (presumably Severos bishop of Antioch, ob. 538, S00262) for the duration of one year; datable to the first half of the 7th century.

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posted on 2017-10-30, 00:00 authored by gschenke
P.Ryl.Copt. 144

In this agreement, Ioannes, a sailor from Hermopolis, addresses another sailor named George from his home town, confirming that he will embark with him on a small ship of Apa Severos for the duration of one year, setting out the conditions of the contract and the fine to be paid, if this contract were to be broken. Two witnesses sign the lengthy document.

‘Apa Severos’ seems to be the name of the vessel, unless it refers to a ship running on behalf of a monastery or shrine dedicated to Apa Severos, hiring outside sailors. The latter seems, however, less likely to be the case, since one would expect a monastic connection to be mentioned in such an otherwise meticulously laid out contract.

Lines 1–4 read as follows:

+ ⲁⲛⲟⲕ ⲓⲱ[ϩⲁ]ⲛⲛⲏⲥ̣ ⲡⲛⲉⲉⲃ ⲡϣⲉ ⲛⲡⲙⲁ̣ⲕ̣(ⲁⲣⲓⲟⲥ) ⲅ̣[ⲉⲱⲣ]ⲅ̣ⲉ̣ ⲡ[ⲣⲱ]ⲙⲉ ϣⲙⲟⲩⲛ ⲉⲓⲥϩⲁⲓ ⲛⲅⲉⲱⲣⲅⲉ
ⲡⲛⲉⲉⲃ ⲡϣ̣[ⲉ ⲛⲙ]ⲉⲗⲁⲥ {ⲡ}ⲡⲣⲱⲙⲉ ϣⲙⲟⲩⲛ ⲟⲛ ϫⲉ ⲉⲡⲉⲓⲇⲏ ⲛⲧⲁⲓⲡⲉⲓⲑⲉ ⲛⲧⲁⲗⲉ ⲛⲉⲙⲁⲕ ϩⲱⲥ
ⲛⲉⲉⲃ ⲉⲧⲕ̣[ⲟⲩⲓ] ⲕⲁⲣⲁⲃⲛ ⲛ̣ⲁ[ⲡⲁ ⲥ]ⲉⲩⲏ̣ⲣⲟⲥ [ⲧⲁϫⲓ] ⲛⲧⲟⲟⲧⲕ ⲉⲙⲓⲥⲑⲱⲥⲓⲥ ϫⲓⲛⲉ ⲡⲟⲟⲩ ⲉⲧⲉ ⲥⲟⲩ ⲙⲛⲧⲏ{ⲏ} ⲡⲉ
ⲛⲡⲁⲣⲙⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲡⲉⲃⲟⲧ [ⲛ]ⲧⲓⲣⲟⲙⲡⲉ ⲛϩⲓⲱⲱⲥ ⲇⲉⲕⲁⲧⲏ[ⲥ ⲓⲛ]ⲇ̣(ⲓⲕⲧⲓⲱⲛ)ⲟ̣(ⲥ)

‘I, Ioannes, the sailor, the son of the blessed George, the inhabitant of Hermopolis (Shmoun), I write to George, the sailor, the son of Melas, likewise an inhabitant of Hermopolis. Since I have agreed to embark with you as a sailor on the small vessel of Apa Severos, and to receive payment from you, from today onwards, which is day fifteen of the month Parmoute of the current year, the tenth indiction, …’

(Text: W. E. Crum, trans.: G. Schenke)


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Severos, bishop of Antioch (465–538) : S00262

Saint Name in Source

ⲁⲡⲁ ⲥⲉⲩⲏⲣⲟⲥ

Type of Evidence

Documentary texts - Other private document Late antique original manuscripts - Papyrus sheet


  • 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)

Hermopolis Hermopolis ϣⲙⲟⲩⲛ Ashmunein Hermopolis

Cult activities - Places Named after Saint

  • Other

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Saint as patron - of a community


The papyrus document is housed at the collection of the John Rylands Library in Manchester. The dating is on palaeographical grounds.


Text and translation: Crum, W.E., Catalogue of the Coptic Manuscripts in the Collection of the John Rylands Library, Manchester, 1909, 75–76.

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