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Artefact ID187
TM IDTM 32666
Findspot (DEChriM ID)50   (Qaṣr Qārūn)
Writing mediumSheet/roll
Text contentDocumentary

P.Abinn. 19; P.Gen. I 51: Letter to Abinnaeus.
The beginning of this mutilated letter is almost completely lost, but the use of the address "beloved brother Abinnaeus" (τῷ ἀγαπητῷ ἀδελφῷ), the appeal to New Testament and the reference to hunting make it possible that the sender is the Apa Mios of P.Abinn. 6, 7 and 8 (although the hand is different). He is here pleading for special treatment for his wife's brother, enlisted in the army; Abinnaeus is requested to release him on the compassionate ground that the recruit's widowed mother is entirely dependent on him.

On the question of whether Abinnaeus, commander of the cavalry (praefectus alae) in Dionysias, was a Christian and for his relationship with monks and clergy, see Bell et al. 1962: 32-33, Barnes 1985: 373-374, Choat 2006: passim, Luijendijk 2008: 35, n. 42, Kaiser 2015: 383, Choat 2017: 47.


Recto: use of nomina sacra; text written along the fibres, with postscript in the left margin (with greetings) across the fibres; traces of a signature before the papyrus breaks off? Verso: address, along the fibres.

Selection criteriaChristian terms/formulas/concepts, Nomina sacra
Date from342
Date to351
Dating criteria

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

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

Geneva, Bibliothèque P. Gen. inv. 7



Reference edition
• 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, 64-65, no. 19.

Editio princeps
• Nicole, Jules. 1906. Les papyrus de Genève. Genève: Georg (H. Kündig), 72-76, no. 51 (Repr. Amsterdam: Hakkert, 1967).

Additional bibliography
• 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.
• Choat, Malcolm and Maria Chiara Giorda. 2017. Writing and Communication in Early Monasticism. Texts and Studies in Eastern Christianity 9. Leiden-Boston.
• Gallazzi, Claudio. 2015. “Dove è stato ritrovato l’archivio di Abinneo?” Archiv für Papyrusforschung und verwandte Gebiete (AfP) 61, 170-179.
• Kaiser, Anna Maria. 2012. “Die Fahndung nach Deserteuren im spätantiken Ägypten.” In Actes du 26e Congrès international de papyrologie, Genève 16-21 août 2010, edited by Paul Schubert. Genève: Droz, 381-390.
• Luijendijk, AnneMarie. 2008. Greetings in the Lord: Early Christians and the Oxyrhynchus papyri. Cambridge, Mass.-London: Harvard University Press.

Valérie Schram, 2021
Suggested citation
Valérie Schram, 2021, "Artefact ID 187", 4CARE database - Fourth-Century Christian Archaeological Record of Egypt,