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Artefact ID170
TM IDTM 10031
Findspot (DEChriM ID)50   (Qaṣr Qārūn)
Writing mediumSheet/roll
Text contentDocumentary

P.Abinn. 34; P.Lond. II 410: Letter of a mother to Abinnaeus.

Letter sent by "the mother of Moses" to Flavius Abinnaeus, commander of the cavalry (praefectus alae) stationed in a fortress in Dionysias. She appeals for a five-day military leave for another son, arguing that "after God we have no help other than you". The biblical name of her son suggests she may well have been Christian (Choat 2006: 172).

Bagnall and Cribiore (2006: 358) note that "Despite the professional quality of the handwriting, the letter must reflect a direct transcription of the woman's dictation".

Text runs along the fibers.

Selection criteriaChristian onomastics
Date from342
Date to351
Dating criteria

Dated to ca. 346 in ed. pr.

According to Gallazzi (2015: 177-178), all of the dated texts of Abinnaeus archive are dated between 343 and 351 AD, that is, in the period in which Abinnaeus exercised his functions of praepositus of the castra (342-351).

Absolute/relative dateRelative date
Archaeological context

Purchased as part of a lot comprising Papyri 401-447 from the Reverend Chauncey Murch (b. 1856, d. 1907) on 15 May 1893.

While it was previously thought that Fl. Abinnaeus' archive was found in Philadelpheia where he went to live after his retirement, Gallazzi 2015 argued that Fl. Abinnaeus should have left his papers in his office (or in his lodgings), in Dionysias, when he left the army and handed over the command of the castra to others. The material would have been recovered in Qaṣr Qārūn, at the end of the nineteenth century, by antiquities seekers or sebâkh quarrymen and given to merchants of Medînet el-Fayûm, where they would have been intermingled with the documents recovered at Kharabet el-Gerza (Philadelphia), before reaching European collections.

Accession number

London, British Library, Pap 410



· Bell, Harold Idris, Victor Martin, Eric G. Turner and Denis van Berchem, 1962. The Abinnaeus Archive. Papers of a Roman Officer in the Reign of Constantius II. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 86-87, no. 34.

· Kenyon, Frederic G. 1898. Greek Papyri in the British Museum II. London: British Museum, 298-299, no. 410.

Additional bibliography

· Bagnall, Roger S. and Cribiore, Raphaella. 2006. Women's Letters from Ancient Egypt, 300 BE–AD 800. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 358-359.

· Barnes, Timothy D. 1985. “The Career of Abinnaeus.” Phoenix 39, 368-374.

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

· Gallazzi, Claudio. 2015. “Dove è stato ritrovato l’archivio di Abinneo?” Archiv für Papyrusforschung und verwandte Gebiete 61, 170-179.


Valérie Schram, 2021
Suggested citation
Valérie Schram, 2021, "Artefact ID 170", 4CARE database - Fourth-Century Christian Archaeological Record of Egypt,