Get Social With Us



Artefact ID473
TM IDTM 704972
Findspot (DEChriM ID)-   ()
Writing mediumSheet/roll
Text contentLiterary, Subliterary

Blumell 2017: 31-43

Small papyrus fragment containing Luke, Acts of the Apostles 9.1.

The papyrus, probably produced as an apotropaic amulet, has 4 lines of text written transversa charta (against the fibres). The other side remains blank. The fragment has margins of approx. 1.5 cm all-round (right side is broken off), and the ed. pr. estimates an original size of 13 x 7 cm (current size is 6.5 x 8.6 cm). The fragment was apparently folded, as is indicated by its folding lines and tears, and perhaps strung after folding; see ed. pr. and Dieleman 2015: 23-25.

The hand is practised, cursive, and right-leaning, and the elongated strokes of some of the letters point to a date in the 4th c. A nomen sacrum is expected (due to the format of the fragment) in the lacuna of l. 3.

The choice of NT passage for an apotropaic amulet is particularly interesting. The text reads:

"Meanwhile Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, approached". Here the text curiously omits the expected final phrase τῷ ἀρχιερεῖ ("to the high priest"). Such an abrupt rendering of a Biblical quote (e.g. broken off mid-sentence) is not an unusual feature of the amulets, see ed. pr.

The subject matter is also curious, given that it is not overtly apotropaic, as is usual concerning the NT passages in amulets. The ed. pr. gives two suggestions: that the text attempts a 'homeopathic' approach, warding off the dangers of prosecution with a depiction of just that, or that the amulet presents a historiola (short narrative with ritual power) of Saul's conversion thus presenting the powers of Christ. 

Selection criteriaNomina sacra, Biblical quote or paraphrase
Date from275
Date to399
Dating criteria

Palaeography. The ed. pr., noting the slanting of the text as well as the elongated traits of the letters, suggests a dating in the late 3rd or 4th c. and gives the comparison of P.Abinn. 60 (sales-contract dated to July 28, 346 CE, from Dionysias (Qasr Qarun) and P.Schøyen I 16 (Christian amulet of late 4/5 c., Oxyrhynchus).

Absolute/relative dateRelative date
Archaeological context

The fragment was possibly acquired in 1922/1923 by James Rendel Harris, curator of manuscripts at the Rylands Library, as part of a lot that was later presented to Woodbrooke College, Selly Oak, Birmingham, in 1925. He purchased papyri from dealers in Cairo and Al-Bahnasā, which could indicate an Oxyrhynchite provenance; see ed. pr.

Accession number

Birmingham, Cadbury Research Library P.Harris inv. 486


Editio princeps:

∙ Blumell, Lincoln H. 2017. "An Amulet Containing Acts 9:1." The Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists 54. 31-43. 

Additional bibliography:

∙ Dieleman, J. 2015. "The Materiality of Textual Amulets in Ancient Egypt". The Materiality of Magic. Böschung, D. and J.N. Bremmer, eds. Paderborn. 23-25.

Sofia Heim, 2021
Suggested citation
Sofia Heim, 2021, "Artefact ID 473", 4CARE database - Fourth-Century Christian Archaeological Record of Egypt,
External links