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E05973: Coptic ostracon from Deir el-Bahari (Upper Egypt) with a guarantee for the good service of a new deacon of a church of Apa *Mena (presumably the soldier and martyr celebrated at Abu Mena, S00073); datable around the year 600.

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posted on 2018-07-18, 00:00 authored by gschenke
O.Crum 45

In this document, two men, Zacharias and Athanasios are addressing bishop Apa Abraham and acting as guarantors for a newly ordained deacon named Ezekiel who they claim will serve at the church of Apa Mena without neglect. They assure the bishop that should there be any neglect on the deacon's part that they are keeping secret, concerning either the lamp or the offering, it is they who are to be made responsible.

Lines 6–10 read as follows:

... ⲉⲍⲉⲕⲓⲏⲗ ⲡⲇⲓⲁⲕ(ⲟⲛⲟⲥ) ⲉⲧⲣⲉϥⲡⲣⲟⲥⲉⲭⲉ ⲉⲧⲉⲕⲕⲗⲏⲥⲓⲁ ⲛⲁⲡⲁ ⲙⲏⲛⲁ ⲁϫⲛ ⲗⲁⲁⲩ ⲛⲕⲁⲧⲁⲫⲣⲟⲛⲏⲥⲓⲥ

'… Ezekiel, the deacon, to have him attend to the church of Apa Mena without any neglect.'

Lines 11–17 read:

ⲉⲛϣⲁⲛⲛⲁⲩ ⲉⲛⲕⲁⲧⲁⲫⲣⲟⲛⲏⲥⲓⲥ ⲛⲧⲟ̣ϥ̣ ⲉⲓⲧⲉ ϩⲁ ⲡϩⲏⲃⲥ̣ ⲉⲓⲧⲉ ϩⲛ ⲧⲉⲑⲩⲥⲓⲁ ⲛⲧⲛⲧⲙϫⲟⲟⲥ ⲛⲁⲕ ⲡⲉϥⲕⲣⲓⲙⲁ ⲛⲁϣⲱⲡⲉ ϩⲓϫⲱⲛ

'But should we encounter negligence, either with respect to the lamp or to the offering, and we do not tell you, his condemnation shall be on us.'

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


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Menas, soldier and martyr of Abu Mena : S00073

Saint Name in Source

ⲁⲡⲁ ⲙⲏⲛⲁ

Type of Evidence

Late antique original manuscripts - Ostracon/Pot-sherd Documentary texts - Other private document


  • 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

Deir el-Bahari

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Deir el-Bahari Hermopolis ϣⲙⲟⲩⲛ Ashmunein Hermopolis

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Places Named after Saint

  • Church


This ostracon is kept at the British Museum in London, inv. 33106.


Text and translation: Crum, W.E., Coptic Ostraca from the Collections of the Egypt Exploration Fund (London, 1902), p. 11 and 12. = O.Crum German translation: Till, W.C., Die Koptischen Rechtsurkunden aus Theben (Vienna, 1964), 45–46.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity