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Artefact ID525
TM IDTM 33559
Findspot (DEChriM ID)55   (Qarāra)
Writing mediumSheet/roll
Text contentDocumentary

P.Neph. 5: Letter from Paulos to Nepheros.

Complete letter from Paulos requesting, again, that Nepheros collect the wheat Papnouthis owes him and distribute 3 of the 16 artabs to the poor people in form of loaves and keep the remaining 13 with him and send to Paulos three baskets of bread. Then Paulos asks for confirmation that Nepheros has received the oil he sent him through “our sister Taese” and requests for more service to be offered from Alexandria. Also, he could not find the iron Protos (the oikonomos of the monastery?) asked for because of a shortage in Alexandria. The letter ends with greetings to the acquaintances in the monastery, a request for intercessory prayers, and the greeting formula.

There is no introductory formula with greetings nor wishes for good health. Paulos is concerned that his wheat has still not been collected although he had already sent a letter about this issue to Nepheros through the brothers Aspidas and Paulos (3-4). The editors note that these “brothers” could be monks of the monastery of Hathor or could belong to the Melitian community of Neson Kome.


Recto: upright cursive less rapid than P.Neph. 4; careful layout (Paulos’ name in l. 2 and final greetings put to the right); adjective μεστόν (full) is divided between l. 11-12, with the division marked by an apostrophe; someone has corrected the initial iotacism throughout, turning iota (with diaeresis) into ει by adding a supralinear epsilon (Bagnall 2018: 91-92). Script was written parallel with the fibres.

Verso: address, written parallel with the fibres.

Selection criteriaMention of Christian cult officials/institutions, Mention of Christian individuals/communities, Christian terms/formulas/concepts, Christian onomastics
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. They add that the archive was probably found in the immediate 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 2141


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, 48-50.

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. C. 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, Victor Ghica, 2021
Suggested citation
Valérie Schram, Victor Ghica, 2021, "Artefact ID 525", 4CARE database - Fourth-Century Christian Archaeological Record of Egypt,