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Artefact ID521
TM IDTM 33555
Findspot (DEChriM ID)55   (Qarāra)
Writing mediumSheet/roll
Text contentDocumentary

P.Neph. 1: Letter from Paulos and Tapiam to Nepheros, Ophellios and all the brethren.

This letter opens with an elaborate prooemium. After the usual requests for mention in the prayers of the clergy, this letter sent by Paulos and Tapiam (his wife) contains a special request for prayers for her health, since she is ill and confined to bed and since intercessions had already been a tried and tested remedy in this family (she mentions the recovery of the children from an earlier illness).

She also informs that she intends to undertake the journey by ship from Alexandria up to the monastery of Hathor and asks Nepheros to have some loaves of bread sent as provisions. The wheat for this is to be taken from the 16 artabs owed to Paulos by the monk Papnuthis, son of Horion. The letter ends with long salutations and wishes for good health.

Noteworthy is that Nepheros is addressed here only as "brother" without "father", like in P.Neph. 2. Maybe he had not yet earned the more honourable form of address.

Recto: written in a rapid, official-looking, cursive hand, somewhat stylish but deteriorating in the last part; two lines are written in the left margin perpendicular to the main text; nomina sacra; apostrophe used to mark both undeclined names and between double consonants; Terminal nu is replaced a number of times by a supralinear stroke, a documentary habit (Bagnall 2018: 89). Writing along the fibres.

Verso: Address, written along the fibres (turned at right angle with the recto).

Selection criteriaMention of Christian individuals/communities, Christian terms/formulas/concepts, Christian onomastics, Nomina sacra
Date from350
Date to370
Dating criteria

Palaeography, archive connection and historic context led the editors to suggest a range of date around 360 for the Nepheros archive (Kramer and Shelton 1987: 5). According to the study of the prices mentioned in the archive, Bagnall 1989: 75 (= BL IX, 173) suggests a range after 352.

Absolute/relative dateRelative date
Archaeological context

The P.Neph. were bought on the market but according to the seller they were all found together. Nothing in the archive led the editors to doubt this statement and they add that the archive were probably found in the direct vicinity of the ancient location of the monastery of Phathor (see Kramer and Shelton 1987: 5).

Accession number

Trier, University Library, P.UB Trier S 073-18 + 9(3) + 9(23)


Editio princeps

• Kramer, Bärbel and John. C. Shelton (ed.). 1987. Das Archiv des Nepheros und verwandte Texte. Part I, Das Archiv des Nepheros. Aegyptiaca Treverensia IV. Mainz, no. 1.

Additional bibliography

• Bagnall, Roger. 2018. "The Educational and Cultural Background of Egyptian Monks." In Monastic Education in Late Antiquity. The Transformation of Classical Paideia, edited by L. Larsen and S. Rubenson. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 75-100.

• Bagnall, Roger. 1989. "Dating the archive of Nepheros. " In "Fourth-Century Prices: New Evidence and Further Thoughts." Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 76, 69-76 (esp. 75).

• Choat, Malcolm. 2017. "Monastic Letters on Papyrus from Late Antique Egypt." In Writing and Communication in Early Egyptian Monasticism, edited by M. Choat and M. Ch. Giorda. Leiden-Boston: Brill, 17-72.

• Wispzycka; Ewa. 2009. Moines et communautés monastiques (IVe – VIIIe siècles). Journal of Juristic Papyrology Suppl. 11.  Varsovie, 81-85.

Valérie Schram, 2021
Suggested citation
Valérie Schram, 2021, "Artefact ID 521", 4CARE database - Fourth-Century Christian Archaeological Record of Egypt,