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Artefact ID534
TM IDTM 33567
Findspot (DEChriM ID)55   (Qarāra)
Writing mediumSheet/roll
Text contentDocumentary

P.Neph. 14: Fragment of a letter to Nepheros

This fragmentary papyrus contains the right-hand line ends from the conclusion of a letter to Nepheros.
Very little can be ascertained about the content: In lines 3-5 it seems to be a matter of business; the postscript lines 11-14 obviously concern greetings. The main interest of the letter lies in the peculiar closing formula (l. 5-10: ἐρρω̣μένον | σε καὶ εὐδοκιμοῦντ̣α̣ | ἐν τῇ σῇ πολιτείᾳ | ἡ θεία πρόν̣οια | [δ]ι̣αφυλάττοι, | ἀ̣γ̣α̣πητὲ τιμιώτατε) which is, according to the editors, without parallel. They note similar uses of the word πολιτεία known in relation to the Anachoretic Paphnutius in SB I 2266 (7-8: πιστεύομεν γὰρ | τὴν πολιτία[ν] [σ]ου ἐν οὐρανῷ) and P.Lond. VI 1927, (30-31: διὰ τὴν εὐκλ[ε]εστάτην | [σ]ου π̣[ο]λ̣ιτίαν; 38-40: ἐπιθυμοῦμεν δὲ μειμεῖσθαι (l. μιμεῖσθαι) | ἐν τῇ αὐτῇ πολειτείᾳ τῇ σου | φιλοκἀγαθείᾳ).  Referring to Lampe's many examples of πολιτεία in the sense of "way of life, individual conduct" and also specifically "ascetic practice", the editors suggest that these meanings could very well be used in this letter and in P.Lond. VI 1927, whereas M. Choat notes that "a conception of a new politeia was central to all monastic thinking (above all in the Life of Antony)" (Choat 2017: 31).

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

Trier, University Library, P.UB Trier S 073-09 -26 73-2 + 73-9(6) + 73-20(b) 



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. 14.

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 534", 4CARE database - Fourth-Century Christian Archaeological Record of Egypt,