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Artefact ID531
TM IDTM 33564
Findspot (DEChriM ID)55   (Qarāra)
Writing mediumSheet/roll
Text contentDocumentary

P.Neph. 11: Letter from Kapiton to the two Nepheros

The monk Kapiton writes "To the two dear brothers Nepheros who have Christ in them (χρη|στοφόροις, l. χριστοφόροις), the priests of the monastery of Hathyr" (πρεσβυτέροις νομῆς (l. μονῆς) | Ἁθύρτι) sending greetings in god. Kapiton is on a journey, possibly visiting monasteries in the Oxyrhynchites and Herakleopolites and expresses wishes for a healthy return to the monastery, which should be granted to him through the intercessory prayers of the recipients. After the greetings, Kapiton states his actual concern. He tells the two priests that his (monastic?) clothes (τὰ ἱμάτιά | μου) have been stolen from him in Pselemachis. and asks them to help him get them back.

The greeting addresses in the first part of the letter express the piety of the sender and betray a certain theological education. Kapiton quotes the New Testament Epistles to Timothy several times (l. 6-7 and 13-14); he refers to the two Nepherotes with the epithet χριστοφόροι and to the brothers in the monastery with the expression στρατιῶται τοῦ Χριστοῦ. Moreover, the letter contains the information that Nepheros is a priest of the monastery of Hathor. As for the other Nepheros, he also seems to be of high rank in the monastery (see P.Neph. 12).


Recto: script written in a wellformed and clear letter hand; simple layout but χαίρειν (greetings) in l. 5 is spaced out. Correct use of Nomina sacra; diaeresis; supralinear stroke over an undeclinable name to mark it as Egyptian (Bagnall 2018: 85). Writing runs parallel with the fibres.

Verso: address, parallel with the fibres.

Selection criteriaMention of Christian cult officials/institutions, Mention of Christian individuals/communities, Christian terms/formulas/concepts, 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 2145  


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. 11.

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 (esp. 85-96).

• 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 531", 4CARE database - Fourth-Century Christian Archaeological Record of Egypt,