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E04374: Daily record of sales of dates, including eight entries on purchases by one Eusebios affiliated to an institution named after the 'Holy Mary' (*Mary, Mother of Christ, S00033), and two by Menas affiliated to an institution named after the Three Children (*Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, Old Testament martyrs, S01198). Written in Greek on papyrus. Found at Nessana/Auja Hafir in the Negev desert (Roman province of Palaestina III). Probably 6th-7th c.

online resource
posted on 16.11.2017, 00:00 by pnowakowski
On a papyrus sheet: 29.5 cm x 35 cm, written across the fibres on the recto and along the fibres on the verso. Partly lost on the right- and left-hand side. The top and bottom margins are preserved.

The papyrus contains an on-going record of sales of dates, laid out over eight columns. The earliest recorded day is 17 October, the last recorded day is 30 May. There is no mention of the year, but the editor supposes that the document dates to the pre-Islamic period, probably the 6th or earlier 7th c.

To us the most interesting parts are the names of the purchasers.

In six entries we find references to a certain Eusebios affiliated with an institution named the 'Holy Mary'/ἁγία Μαρία:

column VI (13 March - 8 April)
line 132 (date is lost): [Εὐσεβίου ἁγίας Μ]̣αρίας κοῦ(κια) δ τ(οῦ) (νομίσματος) θ κ(αθαρῶν) +/'[Eusebios of holy] Mary: 4 baskets, (at the price of) 9 (baskets) per solidus, pitted.'

column VII (10 April - 5 May)
line 143 (15th day of the month of Pharmouthi = 10 April): Εὐσεβίου ἁγίας Μαρ̣ίας [[φ(οινικίων)]] κοῦ(κια) δ τ(οῦ) (νομίσματος) θ κ(αθαρῶν) +/'Eusebios of Holy Mary: 4 baskets, (at the price of) 9 (baskets) per solidus, pitted.'

line 148 (11 days later, 26th day of the month of Pharmouthi = 21 April): + Εὐσεβίου ἁγίας Μαρίας κοῦ(κια) δ τ(οῦ) (νομίσματος) ι κ(αθαρῶν) +/'+ Eusebios of Holy Mary: 4 baskets, (at the price of) 10 (baskets) per solidus, pitted. +'

line 158 (9 days later, 5th day of the month of Pachon = 30 April): Εὐσεβίου ἁγίας Μαρίας κοῦ(κια) δ τ(οῦ) (νομίσματος) ι < κ(αθαρῶν) +/'Eusebios of holy Mary: 4 baskets, (at the price of) 10.5 (baskets) per solidus, pitted.'

line 164 (4 days later, 9th day of the month of Pachon = 4 May): Εὐσεβίου ἁγίας Μαρίας κοῦ(κια) δ [τ(οῦ) (νομίσματος) ια κ(αθαρῶν) +]/'Eusebios of holy] Mary: 4 baskets, [(at the price of) 11 (baskets) per solidus, pitted. +]'

line 168: (1 day later, 10th day of the month of Pachon = 5 May) Εὐσεβίου ἁγίας Μαρίας κοῦ(κια) δ τ(οῦ) (νομίσματος) ια κ(αθαρῶν) +/'Eusebios of holy Mary: 4 baskets, (at the price of) 11 (baskets) per solidus, pitted.'

column VIII (11 May - 30 May)
line 188 (9 days later, 19th day of the month of Pachon = 14 May): Ε̣ὐ̣σ̣ε̣β[ίου ἁγ]̣ί[α]̣ς ̣Μ[αρία]ς κοῦ(κια) δ τ(οῦ) (νομίσματος) ια κ(αθαρῶν) +/'Eusebios of [holy] Mary: 4 baskets, (at the price of) 11 (baskets) per solidus, pitted. +'

line 198 (6 days later, 25th day of the month of Pachon = 20 May): Εὐσεβίου ἁγίας Μαρίας κοῦ(κια) [ -ca.?- ]/'Eusebios of holy Mary: [.] baskets [- - -]'

In two entries we find references to a certain Menas affiliated with an institution named after the Three Children/Τρεῖς παῖδες, certainly the Three Children in the Fiery Furnace, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, Old Testament martyrs:

column VII (10 April - 5 May)
line 170 (10th day of the month of Pachon = 5 May): Μηνᾶ τριῶν ̣π[αί]δων κοῦ(κια) γ τ(οῦ) (νομίσματος) ια < κ(αθαρῶν) +/'Menas of Three Children: 3 baskets, (at the price of) 11.5 (baskets) per solidus, pitted. +'

column VIII (11 May - 30 May)
line 185 (8 days later, 18th day of the month of Pachon = 13 May): Μηνᾶ τριῶν πέδ(ων) κοῦ(κιον) α τ(οῦ) (νομίσματος) ια < κ(αθαρῶν) +/'Menas of Three Children: 1 basket, (at the price of) 11.5 (baskets) per solidus, pitted. +'

Text: P.Nessana 90. Translation: C.J. Kraemer, adapted.
Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

Categories

Keywords

History

Evidence ID

E04374

Saint Name

Mary, Mother of Christ : S00033 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, Old Testament martyrs : S01198

Saint Name in Source

Μαρία Τρεῖς Παῖδες

Type of Evidence

Documentary texts - List Late antique original manuscripts - Papyrus sheet

Language

Greek

Evidence not before

500

Evidence not after

700

Activity not before

500

Activity not after

700

Place of Evidence - Region

Palestine with Sinai

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Nessana

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

Nessana Caesarea Maritima Καισάρεια Kaisareia Caesarea Kayseri Turris Stratonis

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy Merchants and artisans Other lay individuals/ people

Source

Nessana/Auja Hafir was an important town (actually termed a kome/'village' in documents) in the southwest Negev desert, located on the caravan route from 'Aila/'Aqaba to Gaza, and the pilgrim route towards Sinai, and is sometimes identified with the site of the hostel (xenodochium) of Saint George, visited by the Piacenza Pilgrim (see E00507; for an alternative identification, see E02006). The site was excavated by the Colt Expedition, led by Harris Dunscombe Colt, between 1935 and 1937, on behalf of the British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem. Although the site had suffered serious damage during World War I, it soon yielded rich epigraphical evidence (more than 150 Greek and Nabataean inscriptions), and two invaluable collections of 6th-7th c. documentary and literary papyri, comprising several distinguishable archives. The first, smaller collection of papyri, was found in Room 3 of the South Church (about six rolls, parts of rolls, and many fragments; they belong to a 6th c. archive, and deal mainly with property rights). The second group was found in Room 8 of the North Church (damaged and mostly fragmentary documents, including some blank sheets); the room where they were kept is unlikely to have been a proper archive room, but rather a place where unneeded documents were deposited. In 1987 Dan Urman resumed archaeological exploration of the site on behalf of the Ben Gurion University of the Negev, but no new papyri have been discovered. The literary papyri were published in 1950 by Lionel Casson and Ernest Hettich, in the second volume of the Excavations of Nessana. Among them is a fragmentary account of the miracles and martyrdom of *George (soldier and martyr of Diospolis/Lydda), see E04385. The documentary papyri, which we discuss here, were published in 1958 by Casper Kraemer Jr., in the third volume of the Excavations at Nessana. They can be divided into the following groups (termed 'archives' by their editors): 1) Legal documents concerning private transactions of soldiers (loans, a notice of tax transfers, marriages, inheritance, division of property, etc.), which cover the period between 505 and 596. Drafted by people with good knowledge of legal phrasing. This was probably the archive of the unit named the 'unit (arithmos) of the Most Loyal Theodosians', originally thought to have been based at the garrison of Nessana. This identification was later questions as the Theodosians are mentioned in just one papyrus, and could reside in the coastal city of Rhinokoroura/El Arish. It has been also suggested that this was one of the Palestinian units termed equites sagittarii indigenae in the Notitia Dignitatum (see Whately 2016, 122). 2) Five documents of one Patrikios (son of Sergios, grandson of Patrikios), abbot of the monastery of St. Sergios (to which the North Church in Nessana belonged), and of other ecclesiastics. Patrikios' father was likewise abbot of this monastery. The dated papyri come from the period 598-605. Sergios died in 592, and Patrikios in 628, as is known from their epitaphs (see I. Nessana, no. 12). As members of their family served in the military unit garrisoned at Nessana, Kraemer supposes that the two were involved in the depositing of Archive 1 in the North Church after the unit's disbandment in about 582-590. 3) Documents of Georgios, son of another Patrikios, and his son Sergios. Georgios' documents come from the period 682-684. He acts as a moneylender, and is possibly identical with an abbot who offered a column to the North Church (see I. Nessana, no. 77). Sergios, son of Georgios, appears more prominently. His papyri date to c. 682-689. He was a presbyter at the monastery of Sergios and Bakchos in 689, and (later?) its abbot. He acts also as an influential landowner, witness to other transactions, taxpayer, etc. 4) A small collection of documents of the Arab administration: written mainly in Arabic and Greek.

Discussion

The document is a daily record of sales of dates. Sadly, we do not know the identity of the seller, but he must have been based at Nessana. The purchasers bear distinctively Egyptian names, hardly ever occurring in other papyri from the present collection. Therefore, the editor argues that they are travellers: ecclesiastics or merchants of Egyptian origin. The editor, however, makes an exception for the entries which we present in our record. Eusebios, affiliated to an institution, probably a church, dedicated to Mary, Mother of Christ, was a frequent buyer. As he makes his purchases regularly, every 9 days or so, perhaps he needed about 4 days to travel to Nessana, and then about 4 days to take the purchased dates to his home village. Hence, the village must have been sited in the Negev desert, fairly close to Nessana. The same applies to Menas, affiliated to a church of the Three Children, who returned to buy one more basket of dates after 8 days. Kraemer notes that a church dedicated to the Three Children was located in Alexandria (EXXXX), but Menas would not have been able to get there and return to Nessana within 8 days. As Eusebios and Mamas visited the date-dealer in April and May, Kraemer suggests that their purchases could have been made in connection with the celebration of Easter. On p. 262 the editor suggests that the list may also contain information on other churches dedicated to saints. Some buyers are described by their name and patronym. According to Kraemer these 'patronyms' could actually be the names of saints/churches, lacking the epithet hagios: Rouphinos, Bias, Dionysios, Arsas, Theodoros, Apollinarios, Barochos, Parabrouchos, Dromos, Kaloudromos, Hermes, Gennadios, Asphendeia, Prokentios, etc. This is, however, unlikely, as both the present document, and another of probably the same seller (E04375), show that the author of these lists tended to style saints hagioi (Mary, George in E04375). He omitted the epithet while referring to the Three Children, but this was a conventional way of naming this group of saints. There is no reason to omit the epithet in other cases.

Bibliography

Edition: Kraemer, C.J., Excavations at Nessana (Auja Hafir, Palestine), vol. 3: Non-literary Papyri (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1958), no. 90. See also: http://papyri.info/ddbdp/p.ness;3;90 Further reading: Meimaris, Y., Sacred Names, Saints, Martyrs and Church Officials in the Greek Inscriptions and Papyri Pertaining to the Christian Church of Palestine (Athens: National Hellenic Research Foundation, Center for Greek and Roman Antiquity, 1986), 82, nos. 511-518; 113, no. 618. Whately, C., "Camels, soldiers, and pilgrims in sixth century Nessana", Scripta Classica Israelica 35 (2016), 121-135.

Licence

Exports

Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

Categories

Keywords

Licence

Exports