Get Social With Us



Artefact ID536
TM IDTM 33569
Findspot (DEChriM ID)55   (Qarāra)
Writing mediumSheet/roll
Text contentDocumentary

P.Neph. 18: Letter from Taouak to Eudaimon and Apia.

Taouak, possibly a religious woman, writes to Eudaimon and his wife Apia, starting with warm greetings. The letter concerns a business matter involving one aroura of land and six artabas of wheat which they owe her and which she already wrote to them about. She complains that the wheat price is high, that she is a woman and cannot buy wheat. According to the editors, it seems unlikely that, as a nun, the rules of the monastery would forbid her such a transaction because the letter itself proves that she still had worldly interests. She probably only means that as a woman she is disadvantaged in society and cannot earn money as easily as a man. As such, it is especially important for her to be careful with her few possessions.

About the ambiguous conclusion "ὁ γὰρ θησαυρὸς τοῦ θε|οῦ ἡμῖς̣ (l. ἡμεῖς) see the detailed commentary l. 26-27n.


Recto: typical 4th c. business cursive, largely ligatured but not especially fast; the measure 'artaba' is abbreviated, suggesting documentary experience; use of nomina sacra and medial apostrophe; one line in the left margin. Usual phonetic spellings and a number of constructions awkward, incomplete or ungrammatical (Bagnall 2018: 89 and Bagnall and Cribiore 2006: 207-208). Writing runs parallel with the fibres.
Verso: address, parallel with the fibres.

Selection criteriaChristian terms/formulas/concepts, Nomina sacra
Date from350
Date to399
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); but the nature of the link between this letter and the correspondence of Nepheros is unclear.

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 regarding the correspondence of Nepheros (see Kramer and Shelton 1987: 5). Nevertheless, it is not impossible that this letter comes from another find (P.Neph. 18 intro).

Accession number

Trier, University Library, P.UB Trier S 073-05


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. 18.

Additional bibliography

• Bagnall, Roger S. and Raphaella Cribiore. 2006. Women's Letters from Ancient Egypt, 300 BE–AD 800. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 207-208.

• 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).

Valérie Schram, 2021
Suggested citation
Valérie Schram, 2021, "Artefact ID 536", 4CARE database - Fourth-Century Christian Archaeological Record of Egypt,