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Artefact ID524
TM IDTM 33558
Findspot (DEChriM ID)55   (Qarāra)
Writing mediumSheet/roll
Text contentDocumentary

P.Neph. 4: Letter from Paulos to Nepheros.
Paulos, who is in Alexandria, sends this letter to his "most revered and beloved father Nepheros", with greetings in God. He offers his service to Nepheros,  in exchange of which he wishes to be mentioned in his prayers, hoping God would grant him and his children to come back to their home village after a long stay in Alexandria. Then he informs the recipient that he has bought three bundles (of unknown nature) and the oil that Nepheros requested and will send them to him. Finally, he asks Nepheros to send a basket of loaves made out of the 16 artabs of wheat Papnuthis, son of Horion, owes him. Salutations are lost as the papyrus breaks off. On the back, he adds a postscript, asking to be sent three or four sheepskins if Nepheros knows someone who can get hold of some of them.

The subjects are the same as in other letters from Paulos to Nepheros, except he doesn't mention his wife Tapiam anymore, probably has she passed out from her illness mentioned in P.Neph. 1.


Recto: the hand is a rapid business cursive with no pretense to style; left margin is used for overflow (writing perpendicular with the main text); indent for the greetings in l. 2; use of nomina sacra. Standard vocabulary but elaborate and rather stylish prooemium (Bagnall 2018: 91). Writing runs parallel with the fibres.

Verso: address and 2 lines of postscript, parallel with the fibres.

Selection criteriaMention of Christian cult officials/institutions, 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 correspondence (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

Heidelberg, Institut für Papyrologie, P.Heid. Inv. G 2140



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.4.

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 (esp. 25-29.)

• Wispzycka, Ewa. 2009. Moines et communautés monastiques (IVe – VIIIe siècles). Journal of Juristic Papyrology Suppl. 11. Varsovie, 81-82.


Valérie Schram, 2021
Suggested citation
Valérie Schram, 2021, "Artefact ID 524", 4CARE database - Fourth-Century Christian Archaeological Record of Egypt,