Get Social With Us



Artefact ID149
TM IDTM 33468
Findspot (DEChriM ID)58   (Dayr al-ʿIẓām)
Writing mediumSheet/roll
Text contentDocumentary

P.Herm. 9: Letter to Apa John.

The letter was sent by a certain Chaeremon to "[his] master and father, Apa Iohannes, apotaktikos", asking for his prayers. The end of the letter is lost.

Recto: text written along the fibres; 2 lines postscript in the left margin, from top to bottom. Verso: address, along the fibres: "To my master and brother Iohannes, Chairemon".

P.Herm. 9 is one of many Greek and Coptic letters addressed by monks, clerics, soldiers, state officials and individuals to Apa John, so that he would intercede in their favour in dealings with the authorities or pray for them. The anchorite of this archive was identified with the famous John of Lykopolis known by literary sources by Zuckerman 1995.

Selection criteriaMention of Christian individuals/communities, Christian terms/formulas/concepts
Date from375
Date to399
Dating criteria

Palaeography and archive connection

Absolute/relative dateRelative date
Archaeological context

According to Constantine Zuckerman's reconstruction, the Apa John’s letters were presumably found in September 1897, during the excavations of Farag Ismael and Yassa Tadros on the mountain of Siout (Lycopolis), in the ruins of Dayr al-ʿAẓām, the site of the monastery of John of Lycopolis. Yet they never reached the museum in Gizeh – like the other objects unearthed during these excavations – and must have ended on the market, where they were bought soon after the excavations (Zuckerman 1995: 191-192; Van Minnen 1994: 80-82, Gonis 2008: 69-72). Although not proven, this attractive hypothesis is generally accepted by scholars (see discussion in Van der Vliet 2015: 166-167, and some reservations in Choat 2017: 37-40).

Accession number

Manchester, John Rylands Library, P. Herm. 9


Editio princeps:

Rees, Brinley R. 1964. Papyri from Hermopolis and Other Documents of the Byzantine Period. Egypt Exploration Society, Graeco-Roman Memoirs 42. London, no. 9.

Additional bibliography:

Choat, Malcolm. 2006. Belief and Cult in Fourth-Century Papyri. Studia Antiqua Australiensia 1. Turnhout: Brepols, 75, 89, 168. 

Choat, Malcolm and Maria Chiara Giorda. 2017. Writing and Communication in Early Monasticism. Texts and Studies in Eastern Christianity 9. Leiden, Boston.

• Gonis, Nikolaos. 2008. “Further Letters from the Archive of Apa Ioannes.” Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists 45, 69-85.

Naldini, Mario. 1968. II cristianesimo in Egitto. Lettere private nei papiri dei secoli II-IV. Florence: LeMonnier, no. 84.

Van der Vliet, Jacques. 2015. “Snippets from the Past: Two ancient Sites in the Asyut Region: Dayr al-Gabrawi and Dayr al-’Izam.” In Christianity and Monasticism in Middle Egypt, ed. Gawdat Gabra and Hany Takla. Cairo: The American University in Cairo Press, 161-168.

Van Minnen, Peter. 1994. “The Roots of Egyptian Christianity.” Archiv für Papyrusforschung und verwandte Gebiete 41, 71-85.

Zuckerman, Constantine. 1995. "The Hapless Recruit Psois and the Mighty Anchorite, Apa John." Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists 32, 183-194.

Valérie Schram, 2021
Suggested citation
Valérie Schram, 2021, "Artefact ID 149", 4CARE database - Fourth-Century Christian Archaeological Record of Egypt,