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Artefact ID537
TM IDTM 33570
Findspot (DEChriM ID)55   (Qarāra)
Writing mediumSheet/roll
Text contentDocumentary

P.Neph. 19: Letter from the inhabitants of Nesoi to Paulos.

Perfectly preserved letter sent by the community of the villagers of Nesoi to "the most revered father Paulos". The interpretation of the letter remains uncertain but it is clear that something has happened in the village of Nesoi, which gives the inhabitants a reason to suspect that a certain Paulos might complain about it to the authorities. Such a complaint would have devastating consequences for the villagers, including the destruction of their home. The village community therefore implores Paulos not to bring this matter before the authorities: Instead, he should appear in person in the village and present his wishes. These are to be obeyed, even if Paulos demands the murder of the culprits.

The context of the event (see also P.Neph. 20), the identity of Paulos and the link with the archive of Nepheros remain unclear, but as there is no address on the back of the letter, it is not impossible that the letter was actually a copy kept by Nepheros and that Paulos was a member of the monastic community.

Recto: upright cursive; writing runs along the fibres.
Verso: blank.

Selection criteriaMention of Christian cult officials/institutions, Christian onomastics
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). 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 073-15


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.19.

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 537", 4CARE database - Fourth-Century Christian Archaeological Record of Egypt,