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E03944: The donatio mortis causa of Flavios Obodianos, son of Obodianos, written on papyrus in Greek (and partially in Latin) records, in case of his imminent death, the donation of all his property to the monastery (hagios oikos/domus) of *Aaron (the first High Priest, and brother of Moses, S01427) on Jabal Hārūn near Petra, and to a hostel (xeneon) of *Kyrikos (child martyr of Tarsus, S00007). The Church of Petra dedicated to *Mary (Mother of Christ, S00033) is also mentioned as the church of the clerics witnessing the donation. Found in Petra (Roman province of Palaestina III). Dated 573.

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posted on 05.09.2017, 00:00 by pnowakowski
Column I

The beginning of the document is almost entirely lost.

Lines 3-5 contain a damaged dating formula. The date can be plausibly restored as the eighth year of the reign of the emperor Justin II, the 468th year of the province of Arabia, 6th indiction. The formula says that the document was written in Petra.

Lines 6-9 contain a fragmentary Latin description of the donation, for example in line 6 we read: F̣̣l(auius) Ọḅ[o]ḍiạṇus Obodiạn[i donation]ẹ[m f]ẹci /'I, Flavius Obodianus, made the donation', and in line 7: pro dom(o) Aaron/'for the house of Aaron'.

Lines 8-13 contain a Greek text, beginning with a date (an indiction year), probably followed by the names of witnesses.

Column IV, lines 49-65 (the text was restored based on parallels in other columns)

49 [θεοφιλέϲτα(τοϲ) Θεόδω]ροϲ ̣Ὀ̣β[οδιανοῦ ἀρχιδιάκονοϲ τῆϲ] ̣ἁ̣γ̣ίαϲ Μαρία̣ϲ ̣τ[.....................]̣τ[............]̣λ[....]τουϲ πρ[εϲ]β(υτερ )
50 [...............] ̣προϲκλ[ηθε..............]. ̣ν[ο]υ τοῦ ̣τ..[...............Cα]̣β̣ε[ῖ]̣ννοϲ Ἀ̣λ̣φ[είου ἐγώ τε Λεόν]τιοϲ Ὀβοδι[ανοῦ]
51 [πρεϲβ(ύτεροϲ) καὶ ἡγούμε(νοϲ) τῆϲ ἐκκ]λεϲί̣α[ϲ ταύτηϲ καὶ Οὐα]̣λ̣εντῖνο[ϲ Cαμιαβίωνοϲ ἡγούμενοϲ καὶ Γ]έϲιοϲ Εὐθην[ίου..........καὶ Γέϲιοϲ]
52 [Ὀ]̣β̣ο[διανοῦ πρεϲβύτεροϲ αὐ]̣τ[ῆϲ τῆϲ εὐλογημένηϲ καὶ ἁγίαϲ] ̣δ[εϲ]̣ποί[ν]η̣ϲ ̣ἡ[μῶν τῆϲ ἐνδοξοτ(άτηϲ) Θεοτό]κ[ου] καὶ [ἀ]̣ε̣ι[πα]̣ρ[θένου Μαρίαϲ. κα]̣ὶ [παρουϲίᾳ ἡμῶν]
53 [ε]̣ἴπεν οὕτω̣ϲ· [ἦ εἰϲ τὸν δ]̣ε̣ϲπό(την) κ̣α̣ὶ φιλάν[θρω]πον θεὸν ̣ἔ[χοντ]̣α ἐξουϲίαν ζ̣ώ̣ντων τε ̣κ̣α̣ὶ [νεκρῶν ἡγ]είϲθω μοι πρότερον ̣ἐλ[πίϲ. ἐπεὶ] ̣τ[οί]νυ̣ν [ὡϲ ὁ]̣ρ[ᾶ]ται
54 ̣ἀ̣νάκειμαι ̣κ[α]̣ὶ ̣τ̣ῇ κελεύϲει τοῦ θεοῦ τ̣ῶ̣ν πάντων οὐδεὶϲ ἐναντιωθῆναι δύναται, διὸ ̣τ[ὸ ἀν]θρ̣ώ̣πιν[ον] ἐννοῶν βούλο̣μ[αι] ̣κ̣α̣ὶ ̣κ̣ελεύω παρουϲίᾳ
55 ̣ὑ̣μ[ῶ]̣ν, εἴγε ̣δ̣ι̣ὰ ταύτηϲ μου τῆϲ νόϲου τοῦ παρόντοϲ βίου ὑπεξέλθω, πάντα τὰ παρ’ ἐμοῦ καταλι̣μπαν[νό]μενα οἱαδήποτε πρά̣γ̣ματα διοικεῖϲθαι
56 [ὑ]πὸ Κηρυκοῦ Πέτρου το[ῦ ὁ]ϲιωτ(άτου) πρεϲβ(υτέρου) καὶ ἡγουμένου τοῦ ἁγίου ἀρχιιερέωϲ Ἀαρὼν καὶ Θεο̣δ[ώ]̣ρο̣υ Ὀβοδιανοῦ τοῦ προγεγραμμέ(νου) θεοφιλε̣ϲ̣τ̣άτου,
57 [ὀ]ρθοῦ καὶ φιλοχρίϲτου ϲκο̣π[οῦ τυγ]χ̣άννοντ̣α̣ϲ καὶ ἐξ αὐτῶν ̣τ̣ρ [έφεϲ]θαι καὶ ἐνδύεϲθαι Θααι̣ο[ῦ]̣ν τὴν ἐμ[ὴν μ]ητέρα τὸν πάντα χ[ρ]̣όνον ̣τ̣ῆϲ
58 [αὐ]̣τ̣ῆ[ϲ] ζ̣ω̣ῆ̣ϲ, μετ̣ὰ ̣δ̣ὲ θάν̣α[τον αὐτῆϲ] ̣τ̣ὰ ὑπολιμπαννόμεν̣α [ἐκ τῶν το]̣ιού̣τ[ω]ν παρ' ἐμοῦ κατ̣α[λιμπανομ]ένων οἱωνδήπ[οτε πραγ]μάτων
59 ἔρχεϲθαι τὸ ἥμιϲυ [μέροϲ εἰϲ τὸν μ]νη̣μονευθέντ̣α ̣ἅ̣γ̣ι[ ̣ ον οἶκον τοῦ δεϲπότου ἡμ]ῶν τοῦ ἁγίου ἀρ[χιιερέ]̣ω̣ϲ [Ἀα]̣ρ[ὼ]̣ν καὶ τὸ ἄλλο ἥμιϲυ ̣μ[έ]̣ρ[οϲ ε]̣ἰ[ϲ] ̣τὸν
60 [εὐαγέ(ϲτατον)] ξεν[εῶνα τοῦ ἁγίου μάρτυροϲ Κηρυ]κ[οῦ, ἐπειδὴ παρέχω .....]̣ω δι[ὰ .. ἐγγύηϲ Λ]εο[ν]τίου Ὀβοδια̣ν[οῦ τοῦ θεοφ]̣ιλ[εϲτά]του
61 [πρεϲ]β(υτέρου) ̣Κ[η]̣ρ[υκῷ Πέ]̣τ[ρου τῷ ὁϲιωτάτῳ π]ρεϲβ(υτέρῳ) ̣κ[α]̣ὶ [ἡγουμένῳ νομίϲμα]̣τ[α] ̣δ[έ]̣κ[α <π(αρὰ) κερ(άτια)> πέντε ἥμιϲυ τέταρτ]̣ο[ν] ̣κ[αὶ Οὐάλεντι Cαμιαβίωνο]ϲ
62 [ἡγουμ]ένῳ νομίϲματα [τρία π(αρὰ) κεράτια π]έντε ἥμιϲυ τέτα̣ρ̣τ[ον καὶ Βαθύλλ]ῳ Θεοδώρ[ου διακόνῳ νόμιϲμα ἓν παρὰ κεράτια πέντε ἥ]μ̣ι̣ϲ̣υ
63 [τέ]̣ταρ̣τον. (γίνονται) ̣τ̣ο[ῦ ϲύμπαντοϲ χρυϲίο]υ μου φόλλ̣ε̣ι[ϲ...........δύο] ἐ̣π̣ιτρέπω ..̣τ[.........πα]ροῦϲϲιν [............]̣υ
64 [.....]̣ε[..........................ἀπ]̣οδοῦν̣α̣ι [τοῖϲ μνημονευθεῖϲι τὸ] παρ’ ἐμο[ῦ τοιοῦτο χρυϲίον] καὶ καλει[.............]
65 [...........................................................]
ἡγο̣υ[μεν................]ν πρα̣γ[ματ..........]

'[- - - the most beloved of God Theodo]ros, son of Ob[odianos, the archdeacon] of the Holy Mary - - - presbyter - - -] summoned [- - - (a name of a person and his title in the genitive) - - -] Sabeinnos, son of Alpheios [and I,] Leontios, son of Obodianos, [the presbyter and abbot (higoumenos) of this] church [and] Valentinos, [son of Samiabion, the abbot (higoumenos), and] Gesios, son of Euthenios [- - - and Gesios son of Obodianos the presbyter of the same church (ekklesia) of our blessed and holy] Lady, [the most glorious God-bearer (Theotokos)] and ever-virgin [Mary. And in our presence] he said as follows: "[Indeed] in the first place my hope has to be led in the Lord and benevolent God who has the power over living people and [dead bodies]. However, [because] as one can see I am lying in bed, and no one among all can be set against the command of God, therefore having the human destiny in my thoughts, I will and direct in your presence that, if really I do withdraw from this present life through the illness I am suffering from, all the belongings whatsoever which I leave behind should be administrated by Kyrikos, son of Petros, the most reverend presbyter and abbot (higoumenos) of the Saint High Priest (archiiereus) Aaron, and by the aforementioned Theodoros, son of Obodianos the most beloved of God, who has proven to have been an honest and Christ-loving steward. And from those (belongings) is to be nourished and clothed Thaaious, my mother, during the whole time of her life, and that after her death what will be left of those belongings whatsoever which I leave behind, one half (of it) passes to the mentioned Holy [House (hagios oikos) of our Lord] the Saint High Priest Aaron and the other half to the [most reverend] hostel (euagestatos xeneon) [of the holy martyr Kyrikos, because I give - - - through the security of] Leontios, son of Obodianos, the presbyter, the most beloved of God, to Kyrikos, [son of Petros, the most holy] presbyter and [abbot] ten [solidi (minus) five one half and one fourth (carats each)] and [to Valens, son of Samiabion, the abbot, three] solidi minus five one half and one fourth [carats (each) and to Bathyllos], son of Theodoros, [the deacon, one solidus minus five] one half and one fourth carats (each), it makes [the total of my property in gold - - - two] folles which I entrust to (them?) [- - -] being present [- - -] (in order to?) deliver [to the aforementioned] my [property in gold] and to call [- - -]."'

Text and translation: Frösén 2016, lightly modified.

History

Evidence ID

E03944

Saint Name

Aaron, Old Testament prophet : S01427 Kyrikos/Cyricus, child martyr of Tarsus (son of *Ioulitta/Julitta) : S00007 Mary, Mother of Jesus : S00033

Type of Evidence

Documentary texts - Donation document Late antique original manuscripts - Papyrus sheet

Language

Greek

Evidence not before

573

Evidence not after

573

Activity not before

573

Activity not after

573

Place of Evidence - Region

Palestine with Sinai

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Petra

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Petra Caesarea Maritima Καισάρεια Kaisareia Caesarea Kayseri Turris Stratonis

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - monastic

Cult activities - Places Named after Saint

  • Monastery

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Bequests, donations, gifts and offerings

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy Ecclesiastics - abbots Women Other lay individuals/ people

Source

A collection of carbonised papyri (c. 140 fragmentary rolls) was found in 1993, in Room 1 of the 'Petra Church' - an impressive three-aisled basilica with an atrium, three inscribed apses, baptistery and several annexed structures, sited to the north of the so-called Roman Street, and apparently dedicated to *Mary (as suggested by the papyrus evidence). Room 1 lies in the northeast corner of the complex, to the north of the northern side apse. It is presumed to have been a bedroom in a residential block (phase III: 363 – mid-5th c.), that was later converted to a store-room of religious or other precious items. The archaeologists excluded the possibility that it was a proper archive or scriptorium, as the room had no characteristic equipment. It was destroyed by fire, together with the church, probably in the early 7th c. The papyri were almost certainly kept in wooden containers (boxes? caskets?) in a shelved bookcase, standing against the west wall, which collapsed during the fire. The church was excavated between 1992 and 1997 by Pierre Bikai, on behalf of the American Center of Oriental Research. The papyri were extracted and secured by Catherine Valentour, aided by Deborah Kooring, Zbigniew Fiema, and others. They are now housed in Amman, in the American Center of Oriental Research and in the Jordan Museum. They are being published in the series The Petra Papyri by a team of papyrologists from Helsinki University and the University of Michigan. The first volume appeared in 2002, and was followed by vols. 2-4. The collection has recently been updated with a new volume (P. Petra V, published in 2018). This is the largest collection of papyri so-far found in Jordan. The earliest text dates to 537, the latest to c. 594. The papyri come from the archive of the family of one Theodoros, son of Obodianos, a local landowner and deacon (later archdeacon) of the Petra Church. The archive gives an important, albeit selective, overview of relationships, inheritance, donations, transactions, and disputes in Petra and its territory, especially the villages of Augustopolis/Udhruh and Kastron Zadakathon/Sadaqa. Toponyms (including churches and martyr shrines), and about 350 people, mainly of the upper class, are recorded, all of them for various reasons connected with the family of Theodoros.

Discussion

This papyrus, P.Petra inv. 6A, has been just published in the fifth volume of the Petra Papyri by Daniel and Nancy Gamber. however, Jaakko Frösen, has already commented on its contents in several conference talks. In a paper published in 2016 in the Proceedings of the 27th International Congress of Papyrology he offered the first edition of Columns I and IV of the document. The document is written in Greek, with two paragraphs in Latin, on a papyrus roll. The roll is fragmentarily preserved. It was approximately 27 cm high, and made of several glued papyrus sheets, each of them c. 17.5 cm wide. The text is divided into eight columns (Columns II-VII form the main body of the text, repeated six times with little or no changes). In the published fragments four different hands have been identified. The document is the donatio mortis causa of Flavios Obodianos, son of Obodianos, probably a brother of Theodoros, son of Obodianos (archdeacon of the Petra Church and the owner of the archive found in Petra). It was written down in 573 when Obodianos was on his sickbed facing an imminent death, and made disposition of his property. He orders that following his death all his property is to be administrated by Kyrikos, son of Petros, the presbyter and abbot (higoumenos) of the monastery of Aaron and by Theodoros, son of Obodianos (his brother). They are obliged to use his property first to 'nourish and clothe' his mother, Thaaious, until her death. Thereafter, the remaining property is to be divided between the monastery of Aaron and a hostel of the martyr Kyrikos. Then follow specific sums calculated in solidi, given to specific clerics and monks (presumably representatives of the two institutions). Two folles are also mentioned. The two religious institutions are termed the 'holy house (hagios oikos / domus) of our Lord the Saint High Priest (archiiereus) Aaron' and the 'most reverend hostel (euagestatos xeneon) of the holy martyr Kyrikos'. Whereas the cult of Kyrikos was widespread over the entire Near East, we have very little evidence for the cult of Aaron. He is mentioned, for example, in the Georgian version of the Lectionary of Jerusalem on 12 August (E03348) and 3 September (E03372). The two entries refer to his commemorations in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, and in the village of Thamnachar together with the priests Phineas, and Eleazar. Aaron was apparently venerated in the territory of Petra because nearby Jabal Hārūn (literally Mount Aaron, c. 5 km as the crow flies to the southwest of the city centre of Petra) was considered the place of burial of Aaron by Jews, Christians, and Muslims, based on an ancient tradition preserved in the works of Josephus (AI IV 82-83) and Eusebius of Caesarea (Onom. 176,7). The importance of this evidence was recognised by Finnish archaeologists and the Finnish Jabal Hārūn project was launched to explore the monastic complex. An ancient church (a large basilica), a chapel, and a hostel were discovered on the site, on a high plateau seventy metres below the summit. The excavators identified this complex with the monastery mentioned in the donatio of Obodianos, and other sources of late 6th century and later (see Frösén & Miettunen 2008, 5-25). The archaeological research proved that a donation of one Obodianos, probably a member of this same family, was commemorated on Jabal Hārūn by a building inscription: see E03976. [For other inscriptions from the site, see E03946.] The so-called Petra Church, dedicated to Mary, is also mentioned in the will of Obodianos, as the church of the clerics witnessing the donation. It seems that Flavios Obodianos recovered from his illness and this donation was never executed, as the papyrus was found complete, containing all six copies in one roll. Had the donor died, the document would have been cut into pieces and the copies distributed to the beneficiaries. Dating: A fragmentary dating formula is mentioned in line 3 of Column I. It mentions an almost entirely lost regnal year, the 6th indiction year, and a year of the province of Arabia (between 460-469). Based on the latter two elements, the date has been plausibly restored as AD 573 (= 468 of the era of the province of Arabia). The 26th day of the month of Daisios is also mentioned, which gives us the day as 15 June.

Bibliography

Edition: P. Petra V – A. Arjava, J. Frösén, J. Kaimio and others (eds.), The Petra Papyri V (Amman: Jordan, American Center of Oriental Research, 2018), no. 55 [we have not checked this edition yet, but this will be done in the near future]. Further reading: Frösen, J., "From carbonized papyri to the monastery of Saint Aaron at Petra: The 'Last will' of Mr. Obodianos (P.Petra inv. 6a)", in: T. Derda, A. Łajtar, J. Urbanik (eds.), Proceedings of the 27th International Congress of Papyrology: Warsaw 29.07—3.08 2013 (Journal of Juristic Papyrology Supplement 28, Warsaw: the Raphael Taubenschlag Foundation, 2016), 2013-2024. Frösén, J., Miettunen, P., "Aaron in religious literature, myth and legend", in: Z.T. Fiema, J. Frösén (eds.), Petra – The Mountain of Aaron, vol. 1: The Church and the Chapel (Helsinki: Societas Scientiarum Fennica, 2008), 5-25.

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