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Artefact ID220
TM IDTM 16855
Findspot (DEChriM ID)55   (Qarāra)
Writing mediumSheet/roll
Text contentDocumentary

P.Lond. VI 1917: Letter to Apa Paieous.

The letter is addressed by Horion to the head of the Melitian community in Hathor, Apa Paieous, to ask for prayers and forgiveness. Horion seems to have fallen in some disgrace after a "diabolical transgression" and there was an agreement as to his being handed over to Apa Sourous as a punitive measure. He is appealing to Apa Paieous for the benefit of his prayers and for the circulation of the prayers throughout the monastery (κατὰ μονὴν), in the immediate neighbourhood and "upper regions", probably in the Thebaid.

The editor notes that this letter is of rather unusual interest, not so much for its subject-matter, as for its spelling and extraordinary style of verbosity and emptiness, not common even in texts of the Byzantine period.


Hand: semi-cursive, letter hand with many detached letters; Nomina sacra written in full (against the standard contraction), with two short supralinear strokes in most cases.

Great width of single-column format, about 46 cm (see Bagnall 2018: 97).

Recto written along the fibres, verso blank.

Selection criteriaMention of Christian cult officials/institutions, Christian terms/formulas/concepts, Nomina sacra
Date from330
Date to340
Dating criteria

Range of Apa Paieous archive

Absolute/relative dateRelative date
Archaeological context

Purchased with a lot comprising Papyri 2486-2542 from Maurice Nahman (b. 1868, d. 1948) in September 1922 (left half) and 1923 (right half).

Accession number

London, British Library Pap 2489


Editio princeps:

· Bell, Harold I. 1924. Jews and Christians in Egypt. The Jewish Troubles in Alexandria and the Athanasian Controversy. London: British Museum, 80-86, no. 1917.

Additional bibliography:

· Bagnall, R. 2018. "The Educational and Cultural Background of Egyptian Monks." In Monastic Education in Late Antiquity, L. Larsen and S. Rubenson (ed.), Cambridge.

· Choat, Malcolm and Maria Chiara Giorda. 2017. Writing and Communication in Early Monasticism. Texts and Studies in Eastern Christianity 9. Leiden-Boston, 25-29, 31, 42, 49, 60, 65, 66.

· Choat, Malcolm. 2006. Belief and Cult in Fourth-Century Papyri, Studia Antiqua Australiensia 1. Turnhout: Brepols, 120.

· Hauben, Hans. 2002. "Aurêlios Pageus, alias Apa Paiêous, et le monastère mélitien d'Hathor." Ancient Society 32, 337-352.

Valérie Schram, 2021
Suggested citation
Valérie Schram, 2021, "Artefact ID 220", 4CARE database - Fourth-Century Christian Archaeological Record of Egypt,