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The Aphrodito Papyri1

  • H. I. Bell


In vol. iii. (1902) of the Annales du Service des Antiquités de l'Egypte Mr. J. E. Quibell gave an account of a large discovery of papyrus at Kom Ishgau, a village situated 7 kil. to the S.W. of Tema in Upper Egypt. The discovery was made in 1901 by some of the villagers who were digging a well, and the papyri found were divided among the inhabitants. News of the discovery coming to the authorities, a police-guard was despatched, only to find that the papyri had disappeared; some seem to have been burnt, the rest were hidden for the time being and afterwards no doubt disposed of to various dealers, through whom, like the famous and much larger ‘Faijum-fund,’ they became dispersed through Europe.



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2 This bilingual document is a receipt from two officials (not one as Karabacek, , Vienna Oriental Journal xx. p. 143, states; see Becker, , PAF. p. 101) of the barns at Babylon for a tax-payment of 617⅔ artabas of wheat (σῖτος which at this period means wheat as opposed to barley, not grain generally). The Greek portion of the receipt is clear and straightforward except the last line of the main portion, which I read φᾳῳφ. ινδο εͺ (i.e. Sept.-Oct., A.D. 706), which is inconsistent with the Arabic date as given by Karabacek, Ḏū-l-ka'dah a.H. 87 = 13 Nov.-11 Dec. A.D. 706. The Arabic and Greek dates of bilingual papyri at this date are generally inconsistent (cf. Becker, , PSR. p. 28, though the explanation there suggested is untenable in view of the evidence of the B.M. papyri).

3 Or the officials (οἱ ἀπό); cf. Hohlwein, , Musée Belge 1905, pp. 191 f., 1906, pp. 40 f.; but Becker, , PSR. p. 114, shows that tlie former interpretation is the more probable.

4 Ḳurrah entered Fusṭāṭ, the capital, on the 3rd or 13th of Rabī‘ I. a. H. 90 ( = 20th or 30th Jan. A.D. 709); Becker, , PSR. p. 17.

5 PSR. i. and B.M. Inv. No. 1346, though they are not duplicates in wording, are probably the corresponding Arabic and Greek versions of the same letter.

6 Similar minutes were written on the Arabic letters, to judge from PSR. ii. The space there left between the name of Ḳurrah and that of Basilius is regular in the Greek letters also The Greek minute should probably read Πχ κδ ηνηχ δι Ααμερ βερδ ρ᾿ σιτου ι.ε Παχών κδ ἠνἠχθη διἀ Ααμερ βερεδαρίου περὶ σίτου The omission of the indiction is not usual, but is paralleled in the B.M. letters. A courier Αβου ᾿Αμερ occurs in Inv. No. 1356.

7 See below, p. 117.

8 The passage in question is:ποιῶν κατά γραφον ὀνομασίας καὶ [πατρωνομίασ] τῶν στελ λομένων πρ[οσώπων ο] ὐ μήν ἀλλὰ καὶ εἰς ποῖα χωρία τῆς διο [ική (σεως) σου] προσέ φε<υ>γον καὶ τί διαφέρει ἐκάστῳ ἔν τε ὑπο στάσει κ[αὶ γῃδίοις ], γράφων ὡσαύτως το῀ (sic) τοι<οὐ>το (sic) σκαρίφῳ τοὺς εὐρισκομέν[ο]υς ἐκ τῆ[ς ] παγαρχίας ποιήσαντας ἐκ περιττοῦ τοῦ δρου τοῦ (sic) ἐξεθέμεθα (sic) ἐξεθέμεθα At first I took ἐκ τῆς παλαρχίας as referring to the χωρίον in which the fugitives happened to be; but it may equally well refer to the διοίκησις in general. In PAF. ix. l. 11 the reading should probably be ἐκ τ(οῦ) ὑμε(τέρου) παγάρχ(ου) i.e. Basilius.

9 Cf. Milne, , Hist. of Egypt under Roman Rule, p. 13: ‘Among the subordinate officials the strategoi almost (quite; cf. Wilcken, , Hermes, xxvii. pp. 287 ff.) disappear in the Byzantine period, and their place appears to have been taken in the Arsinoite nome by the pagarchs, who were not, however, like them, appointed to the charge of a nome, but merely to that of a pagus or division of a nome.’

10 l.c. p. 299.

11 This list makes no claim to be exhaustive, but I trust I have overlooked nothing vital. Instances of the words used absolutely, without a place-name or any other useful data, are not noticed. Where no date is mentioned it is to be understood that no date is assigned by the editor.

12 For καὶ ὑπάτῳ see WD. App. 792 below. Kenyon read [και στραηηγ]ω after Wessely's readings in Prolegomena, etc., but, according to the view of Wilcken, l.c., incorrectly. Since the catalogue was published another fragment (continuous with the previous one) of this papyrus has been found. It reads:—

πολιτων Αυρηλιοι Ουεναφριος υϊος Ιερεμιου και Αβρααμ υίος Πεͺνουθ῀ι [. . . . . . . ]ᾳωμ υίος νιοσΟυεναφριο῀ απο [χωριου ψι]νευρεως τὄ Αρσιν, νομου [ομολογουμ]εν εξ αλληλεγγυης εκουσια [γνωμη . . .

Forψινευρεως see Wessely, , Topographie des Faijûm, p. 164, Grenf., and Hunt, , Tebt. Pap. ii. pp. 410 f.

13 The same man occurs in Wilcken, , Tafeln zur älteren gr. Palaeographie, xix. d, l. 9. The first letter there is certainly Η rather than Κ, as in PERM. v. p. 61.

14 W.—ίᾳ, but the genitive is regularly used with ἐπικєίμєνος in this sense.

15 These references to unpublished papyri I owe to Mr. Crum. Or. 6721 (10) and Berlin 10607 are not very clear; Dr. Kenyon suggests that the person referred to was pagarch of the whole district from Thebes to Latopolis. Dr. Hunt would take απο παγαρχ as ἀπὸ παγάρ(χων) ‘one of the pagarchs.’

16 In PERF. 588 this same man is called Dux.

17 Cf. Milne, op. cit. p. 14.

18 Cf. too Wilcken, in Becker, , PSR. p. 22.

19 Wilcken, , Hermes xxvii. p. 299.

20 In Isidorus Pelusiota, lib. ii. ep. 91 (Migne, , Patr. Gr. 78, col. 536) occur, however, the words πάγαρχοι καλοῦνται παρά τισιν οἱ τῶν κωμῶν ἤ τόπων τινῶν ἄρχοντες where the pagarch seems a small local official. In Justinian's Edict xiii. De Dioec. Aeg. (ed. Zachariae von Lingenthal, p. 11) οἰ παγάρχαι καὶ οἱ πολιτευόμενοι are mentioned, and the editor explains the latter word as ‘curiales earum urbium Aegyptiacarum, quibus βουλήν i.e. curiam habere concessum erat’; cf. too Pap. Lips. 34, l. 11, οἱ πολιτευόμενοι τῆς ῾Ερμο[ῦ] π[όλεως] This might possibly, though not necessarily, make it appear that the pagarch had no jurisdiction over towns which had a βουλή; but the βουλή is not heard of in the later papyri, and it is certain from the evidence giren above that the pagarchs had authority over towns like Arsinoe. Perhaps a change was made at about the time of Justinian's edict (A.D. 554). Isid. Pel. is too early to be any evidence for the latest Byzantine period, but is very likely an instance of πάγαρχος as = praepositus pagi. Paris App. 244 (to which and not to Rain. Geo. 183 the reference should be in Tebt. Pal), ii. p. 352) specifies pagi in the Arsinoite nome (Wessely, , Topogr. des Faijûm, pp. 53, 81, etc.). It is not specifically dated by Wessely, but on p. 121, s.v. Πελκεησυ he implies that it is 6th–8th cent. The mention of pagi makes it very improbable that it is later than the 5th.

21 Crum, , Coptic Ostraca, p. 28, note to No. 131. I owe these references to Mr. Crum. It is of course possible that Or. 5985 is later than 4878 and that Chael had become διοικητής in the interval. In Or. 6205 (from Jkôw) =μειζότερος (Crum).

22 In Justinian's Edict xiii. the Augustal and duces are expressly forbidden to remove the pagarchs for misconduct themselves, but are in all cases to refer the matter to the central government at Constantinople.

23 Most of these occur in Inv. No. 1494 (see below, pp. 109f.). It is a document much damaged and written in an uneducated hand of Coptic type and in very corrupt Greek. In several cases the names of pagarchies and χωρία are mutilated or corrupt. If any of these obscure passages should hereafter yield a pagarchy-name which is clearly not a nome-name, the remarks in the text would require modification.

24 Cf. Eutychius, Annals (in Migne, , Patr. Gr. 111), ii. 369, col. 1119, and Becker's, remarks on the passage, Beiträge ii. p. 98.

25 It may be noted also that the Arabic name, Ashmunain, means ‘the two Shmun,’ as a dual form; cf. Becker, , PSR. p. 21.

26 Hierocles, , Synecd. 731, 3; Georgius Cypr. 767; Parthey, , Not. Episcopatuum i. 767; Anton. Itin. 158, 1; in the last case Hypsele is not mentioned, and Apollonis minoris follows Lyco. Mr.Crum, informs me that the evidence of the new Petrie Papyri (Gizeh and Rifeh, double vol. p. 39) shows the town to be the modern Kom Esfaht.

27 Archiv für Papyrusforschung, iv. pp. 163 ff.

28 The latest discussion of the vexed question of the nature of this Theodosiopolite nome is in Grenf., and Hunt, , Tebt. Papyri, ii. pp. 363 ff.

29 In Not. Dignitatum xxviii. 20 an ala Theodosiana is mentioned, but it is not clear what Theodosiopolis is intended. As an ala Arcadiana also occurs, it is perhaps the one in the Thebaid.

30 But the Coptic and Arabic authorities cited by Amélineau, , Géogr. de l'Égypte, p. 471, place it to the north. At any rate it is clear that it was near Hermopolis.

31 RKT. cxvi., note on l. 2, PERM. II/III. p. 59.

32 Becker, , PSR. p. 22.

33 Karabacek, , Vienna Or. Journal, xx. p. 144, note 2.

34 The arrangement of nomes was always liable to alteration; cf. Mahaffy, in Rev. Laws, xlv. § 10.

35 It was formerly identified with Tachta; cf. von Prokesch, A., Erinnerungen aus Aegypten und Kleinasien, vol. i. p. 152, Pauly, Real-Encycl. ed. 1, Smith, Dict. of Class. Geogr.

36 The evidence for Itfu is given by Dümichen, , Geogr. des alten Aegyptens, p. 162, Brugsch, , Geographische Inschriften altäg. Denkmäler, i. pp. 215, 216, and Pauly-Wissowa, s.v. Aphroditopolis. The only real argument seems to be the name (old Aeg. Ṭebu or Dbôt— Copt. ΑΤΒωArab. Itfu); but the form ΑΤΒω (primarily ΤΒω, Crum) seems never to occur for Aphroditopolis, but only for Apollinopolis (Edfu); it may probably be traced back to a conjecture of Champollion's, , l'Égypte sous les Pharaons, i. p. 268. It should be added that in some unpublished B.M. papyri a κώμη ᾿Αφροδίτης occurs in the Antaeopolite nome (6th cent.). As in one mention is made of τὴν περαίαν τῆς Πανοσπόλεως the village was evidently on the west bank and must almost certainly have been our Aphrodito. Hence it appears that at one time the Aphroditopolite nome (as to which see e.g. Ptol. 4. 5. 47) was united to Antaeopolis. The nomes in this part of Egypt were evidently subject to a great deal of alteration.

37 PAF. p. 97.

38 PSR. p. 40.

39 In 1332, nine; in other respects the letters are duplicates.

40 Cf. Becker, , PSR. p. 40: ‘Diese ǵ;alija scheinen sich aber doch zuweilen angesiedelt zu haben und müssen dann an der Kumnlativquote der neuen Gemeinde nach Kräften teilnehmen (ḫiṭaṭi. 77, 12).’

41 In 1332, three in each case.

42 These names are interesting, as they show, contrary to what Becker, says (PSR. p. 36) that the old eparchies still continued to exist, at least for some purposes. The names require a word of explanation. The first two are the old eparchies of Arcadia and the Thebaid, the latter either ἡ ἕγγιστα and ἡ ἄνω combined or the first alone. The λίμιτον is new. Possibly it represents the two Aegypti of Justinian's Edict xiii. In the Not. Dignit. xxviii. the authority of the ‘Comes limitis Aegypti’ extends apparently much further.

43 Cf. RKT. iii. where the meeting of inhabitants for the prepaiation of διαγραφαί is also to be held in the church.

44 Since this was written Mr. Crum has kindly sent me a translation of a Coptic letter in the Rylands collection (No. 277 in the forthcoming catalogue), which still further increases the probability that the document refers to the fugitives. The letter is in Coptic but in its phraseology strongly resembles the Greek letters of the Aphrodito collection, and is probably, like them, from the Governor. It is addressed to a pagarch, probably of Ashmunain, and many of the phrases are identical with Greek phrases used in the Aphrodito letters. It concerns certain ‘strangers’ whom the pagarch is ordered to ‘bring forth’ from his pagarchy; and mention is made, as in Inv. No. 1494, of ‘such of them as have fled away, from fifteen years and under.’ [Since this article was sent to press, Mr. Crum has discovered another fragment of this Coptic letter, from near the beginning. It reads ‘The men of Peiom (i.e. Fayum) and those of…and those of Shmoun and those of Kôs.’ This makes it almost certain that the letter relates to the same fugitives as the Aphrodito letters; and it seems to make against the letter being from Ashmunain.]

45 In the translation by Bouriant, U., Mémoires de la Mission Archéologique Française du Caire, 1895, p. 227.

46 Lane-Poole, S., Egypt in the Middle Ages, p. 27.

47 K. marks a lacuna before all the lines, but in ll. 2, 4–6 the beginning is, I think, certainly preserved.

43 See below, p. 115.

49 The tops and bottoms of the letters in these two words are visible.

50 Ar. Amir-al-Muminīn, ‘Commander of the Faithful,’ i.e. the Khalif.

51 MS. єιτє. This seems to make no sense, and in the Aphrodito Papyri єι/ is the regular abbreviation for єἰς.

52 The dot here (which is in the MS.) can hardly be a symbol for καί, but seems intended as a punctuation-mark. It is followed by a blank space.

53 θєματίζω is regularly used in the same sense in the Aphrodito Papyri.

54 The word is frequent in the Aph. Papp., denoting an account. If used here, it will probably refer to a list of persons missing, placed at the foot of the document.

55 See below, p. 115.

56 The text on the verso, taken by Droysen for a glossary of some foreign language, but correctly explained by Wessely as an account and published by him, though in a rather unintelligible form, in WS. 1887, p. 243, receives, like the letter, some light from the Aphrodito Papyri. Crum, (Catalogue, p. 310, No. 698) has shown that it contains Coptic headings but the main portion of the text is Greek, though the place-names are of course Coptic. It appears to be a μερισμός or assignment of the taxation-quotas among various estates. As a specimen I give lines 2 and 3, following the Coptic heading:—

2 ] νο(μισματα) ιβ γ γηδ(ίου) Παβερτ νο(μίς ματα γ οὐσία ς Χεμεσοφθ κ. . . γηδ(ίου) Ταερμος (ὑπέρ) ἰ(ν)δ(ικτιόνος) γ νο(μἴσματα) δ (καὶ) ἰ (ν) δ (ικτιόνος) δ νο(μί σματα) blank

3 ] . . . .γῃδ(ίου) υἰο῀(ν) Μᾳρρ῀ (ὑπέρ?) ι(ν) δ(ικτιόνος) [γ ν] ο (μίσματα) ῃ (καὶ) ἰ(ν) δ(ικτιόνος) γ ν ο (μίσματα) ι γῃδ (ίου) Μῃνᾷ . . . . . νο(μίσματα) ιθ λάκκ(ου) πωταμοῦ (καὶ) γῃδ(ίου) . . . . νομίς ματα) ζ. .

Under the indiction numbers of l. 3 are placed in the following lines the entries ὁμ(οίως) with an amount in solidi. Wessely has frequently read the νο of νομίσματα which at this period becomes a mere symbol, like our inverted comma, as ο.γηδ stands, not, as explained by Wessely, for γῆς δημοσίας, but for γῃδίου, a word frequently used in the accounts of the Aphrodito collection to mean, apparently, a smaller land-unit than the τόπος The crosses are more probably symbols to mark revision (similar ones occur in the accounts of the Aphrodito collection) than the sign for ὑπέρ The word at the beginning of l. 3 may end in αγρ but is hardly διαγρα(φῆς)

57 Culturgesch. des Orients unter den Chalifen, i. p. 248.

58 The protocol fragment in PSR. xxi. is probably from such an agreement. The verso, l. 2*, should no doubt be read δμολογί(α) γενα μ(ένη) παρ(ἀ) ῾Ιερημία μ . . . . χάρ(ιν) τ[ῶν

59 Or μωαγαρίτες; the nominative never occurs.

60 In Inv. No. 1348 (New Pal. Soc. Pl. 76), l, 5, and several other places occurs a mysterious word μαχων (gen. plur.) Professor Becker has suggested in a letter that μαυλων should be read. The reading in all cases is certainly μαχων, and the fact that it occurs several times, sometimes as an abbreviation (μχ), shows that it cannot be a slip of the pen. μαῦλοι would make very good sense.

61 Wellhausen, , Ar. Reich, p. 16; Becker, , PAF. p. 93.

62 Wellhausen, , Ar. Reich, pp. 19 f. etc.

63 PAF. p. 93.

64 In BGU. 304, l. 11 (ῥωγά (sic) is used of corn; but in the Aphrodito Papyri it always means the money-allowance, as opposed to the ῥουζικόν.

65 καμίσια, Ar. ḳamīs, PAF. v.; cf. Becker, , Beiträge, ii. p. 85.

66 For them, see Wellhausen, , Ar. Reich, pp. 45, 46, 174, etc.; Goldziher, , Muhammedanische Studien, pp. 104 ff.; v. Kremer, , Kulturgesch. ii. pp. 154 ff.

67 It is interesting to find this official so late. This is a later instance than Amélineau, , Vie d'Isaac, Patriarche d' Alexandrie, p. 73; another instance is in Crum, , Coptic Ostraca, 320, l. 5.

68 Hence our corsair. In Inv. No. 1388 the persons making a κοῦρσον are called προκουρ σάριοι

69 In PAF. p. 90 Becker quotes me as stating that κοῦρσον is used also as a dating-system. This was a misapprehension on my part, due to such expressions as ἐπὶ παρούσης ἰνδικτιόνος η κούρ σου δὲ ἰνδικτιόνος θ

70 Storia dei Musulmani di Sicilia, i. p. 124.

71 Mr. Crum points out that in no case is it necessary to assume this transference; but it would be very natural with such an expression as κοῦρσον Αἰγύπτου

72 Georg. Cypr. 798a.

73 Not. Dignit. i. 42–48, etc.

74 See above, p. 108.

75 This may be the headquarters of the κοῦρεον θαλἁσσης but it is difficult to see what a raiding fleet could do there. Under the Fātimid Khalifs the headquarters of the Red Sea fleet were at Aidhāb, further south (Wüstenfeld, , Calcaschandi's Geogr. und Verw. von Äg. in Abhandl. der Kgl. Gesellsch. der Wissensch. zu Göttingen, Bd. 25, p. 215).

76 Weil, , Gesch. der Chalifen, i. p. 478; Jones, J. H., Ibn Abd-el-Hakem's Hist. of the Congu. of Spain, pp. 23, 24; Amari, , Biblioteca Arabo-Sicula, i. pp. 273–5.

77 Amari, l.c.

78 See De Vogüé, C. J. M., Temple de Jérusalem, pp. 85, 86. The inscription at present bears the name of the ‘Abbāsid Khalif Al-Ma'mūn, but the date is given as a. H. 72, the inference being obvious that Al-Ma'mūn substituted his own name for that of ‘Abd-al-Malik, but forgot to alter the date; and this conjecture is supported by the appearance of the inscription.

79 Le Strange, G., Palestine under the Moslems, p. 557.

80 Histoire de Jérusalem et d'Hébron, transl. by H. Sauvaire, p. 52. Mujīr-al-Dīn died in A.D. 1521.

81 Or κτιστοῦ; there is no sign of contraction after κτισ.

82 It should however be added that there is some doubt as to whether this really refers to the mosque, as in one case the word αὐλή is used as the equivalent of the above expression. If αὐλή is not the same as μασγιδα (masjid, mosque) the remarks in the text should be modified: a discussion of the question must be reserved for the volume in which these texts are published.

83 Cf. too Eutychius, 2, 372 (Migne, , Patr. Gr. 111, col. 1119), ‘Mittens hic (sc. Al-Walīd) Hierosolyma templum Hierosolymitanum exstruxit, atque opere albario ornavit,’ etc.

84 Becker, , PSR. p. 19.

85 Cf. Leontius, , Life of St. John of Alexandria (ed. Gelzer, ), ch. xx. p. 37, where the patriarch sends for the rebuilding of the church at Jerusalem χιλίους Αἰγυπτίους ἐργάτας This was under the Empire.

86 Cf. Becker, , PSR. pp. 18, 35; PAF. p. 96.

87 Cf. v. Kremer, , Culturgesch. i. p. 141.

88 Cf. the peremptory tone of RKT. iii, addressed probably to the pagarch of Arsinoe.

89 Cf. e.g. B.M. Papp. 1051, 7; 1060, 8; PERF. 146; Gr. Pap. ii. 97, 7, 8; 98, 5, 7, all of the late Byzantine period. In Pap. Lips. 58, l. 13 etc. of the early Byzantine period the word is used in a sense approaching that of the Aphrodito Papyri, which, as Mitteis shows there, is probably the original meaning.

90 UKF. 260 is a document of similar character, but is addressed by a pagarch to individuals. In PERF. 586 however the pagarch of Arsinoe addresses an ἐντάγιον to the ‘Bewohner von Pantikos.’

91 For specimens, see PSR., Plates VII., VIII, and Ar. Pal., Plate 101; cf. too Wilcken, Tafeln, xix. d.

92 I owe these identifications to the kindness of Professor Becker, to whom I sent a transcript of the fragments first discovered. The Kuraish and Anṣār were the two most distinguished of Arab tribes.


1 The following abbreviations are employed in this article:—

Ar. Pal. = B. Moritz, Arabic Palaeography, Cairo, Leipzig, 1905.

BGU. = Aegyptische Urkunden aus den Koeniglichen Museen zu Berlin.

Becker, Beiträge = C. H. Becker, Beiträge zur Geschichte Ägyptens unter dem Islam, Strassburg, 1902, 1903.

BeckerPSR. = id. Papyri Schott-Reinhardt i., Heidelberg, 1906.

BeckerPAF. = id. Arabische Papyri des Aphroditofundes in Zeitschrift für Assyriologie xx.

Crum, Catalogue = W. E. Crum, Catalogue of Coptic MSS. in the British Museum, London, 1905.

Gr. Pap. ii. = Grenfell and Hunt, Greek Papyri, Second Series, Oxford, 1897.

PERF. = Papyrus Erzherzog Rainer. Führer durch die Ausstellung, Vienna, 1894.

PERM. = Mittheilungen aus der Sammlung der Papyrus Erzherzog Rainer, Vienna, 1886–1897.

RKT. = Corpus Papyrorum Raineri. Koptische Texte, herausgegeben von Jacob Krall, Vienna, 1895.

Wellhausen, Ar. Reich = J. Wellhausen, Das Arabische Reich und sein Sturz, Berlin, 1902.

Wessely, Prolegomena = C. Wessely, Prolegomena ad Papyrorum, Graecorum Novam Collectionem Edendam, Vienna, 1883.

WesselyUKF. = id. Studien zur Palaeographie und Papyruskunde iii. Griechische Papyrusurkunden Kleineren Formats, Leipzig, 1904.

WS. = Wiener Studien.

WD. = Denkschriften der Kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften (Vienna) xxxvii. Wessely, Die Pariser Papyri des Fundes von El-Faijûm.

The remaining abbreviations will explain themselves.

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