Papers: Cromwell

27th International Congress of Papyrology (Warsaw, 29 July–3 August)


There are few examples of Coptic legal documents that exist in duplicate copies. One such rare example is the testament of Susanna daughter of Moses, from early 8th century Djeme (West Thebes), two versions of which are known: P.KRU 66 and P.KRU 76. While mostly the same, these are not exact copies, and the differences in their content have previously been discussed by other scholars (including by Sofia Schaten at the 21st International Congress of Papyrology in 1997). Many questions remain concerning the nature of these duplicates, including why they were made and why differences exist between them. In their original publication, their editor, W alter Crum, mistakenly notes that they are written by two different scribes, Shenetom son of Mena and Komes the priest, when Komes in fact wrote both. This removes the possibility that one scribe misinterpreted the text of another, or added his own touches to the version that he wrote, and introduces an extra dimension to the questions posed, namely why the same scribe would make changes to the document. This paper will examine the processes involved in producing the duplicate copies, analysing variations in formulary and lexical choices, as well as differences in stichometry and the use of superlination and abbreviations, through examination of the original manuscripts (British Library Papyrus CII and Papyrus Berlin P . 3138). In doing so, I will address the issue of which is the original manuscript, why a copy was made, and why the differences between them occur.

This paper is set within a wider research project at Macquarie University, funded by the Australian Research Council: “Knowledge Transfer and Adminis- trative Professionalism in a Pre-Typographic Society: Observing the Scribe at W ork in Roman and Early Islamic Egypt”.



Coptic Culture: Past, Present, and Future. 2nd International Symposium



 Jennifer Cromwell (Macquarie University) & Luigi Prada (University of Oxford)


Legal documents written in Coptic appear from the late 6th century, before which time Greek had been the sole language used in Late Antique Egypt for this purpose. The reasons why Coptic comes to be used at this time have not been fully addressed and our understanding of the processes involved remains limited. We do not propose to tackle this subject here, which is beyond the scope of the current forum, but to look in detail at two under-researched case studies that exemplify the close contact between those literate in Greek and Coptic, and to examine the issues they raise.

While Dioscorus of Aphrodito, from the 6th century, is the best known Greek-Coptic bilingual individual from Late Antiquity, writing a range of material (literary and non-literary) in both languages, and work on his dossier has already been at the fore of research in Late Antiquity scribal culture and bilingualism, in this paper we intend to focus instead on two of his lesser known near contemporaries. The first, Paul son of Megas from This, wrote four Greek contracts (SB I 4503-4505 and P.Paris 21) and the Coptic contract CPR IV 23 (= SBKopt. II 932), which date approximately 592–616. The second, Apa Rasios from Aphrodito, wrote the Greek sale deed P.Mich. XIII 662 and the Coptic cession of land P.Mich.inv. 6989 (=SBKopt. III 1369). His dates are less clear, but probably span 615 to 645 (or may, indeed, lie entirely after the Arabic conquest of 641). Both corpora have been discussed by Leslie MacCoull in her studies of Coptic documents before the Arabic conquest, but neither have received synthetic studies.

This paper will present the key features of a linguistic and palaeographic analysis of the documents, placed within the context of their production, particularly where they were written and whom for. In so doing, we will set down the parameters by which the following questions may be addressed: were Paul and Apa Rasios Greeks writing Coptic or Copts writing Greek? More to the point, can we even talk of Greeks and Copts in this context, or is this a modern construct that we are improperly applying to this issue? These case studies will eventually provide important contributions to the phenomenon of language use during this period, adaptation and assimilation of existing Greek practice to suit a different language, and the related issue of cultural contact in the Egyptian countryside.



Ancient Egyptian Language and Texts 5



A vast amount of written material was discovered from the excavations of the 6th–8th century monastic complex at Wadi Sarga. A small percentage of this is on papyrus, some texts are in Greek, and a few literary texts are known, but the majority are Coptic documents on ostraca. In 1922, Walter Crum published 385 texts from the site, but the British Museum collection holds over 1,300 items that contain traces of writing. Almost 1,000 additional texts are therefore available to study. Of these, several hundred are ostraca, while the remaining items contain vessel notations, either written or incised. This corpus provides the opportunity to study life at the monastery, including its hierarchy, its economy, and many aspects of day-to-day life.

Pivotal to the production of this material, and therefore the organisation of the monastery, were scribes. Yet most scribes did not sign the documents that they wrote, and only a small number can certainly be identified. This anonymity has several repercussions, including for the delivery and administration of wine—the most important commodity mentioned in the surviving record. The largest single category of text is wine receipts, providing information on the amount of wine and the cameldriver responsible for its delivery. Crum noted that most of these are written in a single hand, but the question remains whether this ‘hand’ is from the monastery or elsewhere—i.e. were these receipts issued to the cameldriver when he collected the wine from the river, or at the monastery, upon delivery? If the former, these are not receipts but a form of ‘way-bill’; if the latter, they could only have been deposited at Wadi Sarga if the cameldrivers resided at the site, or disposed of them immediately.

In order to provide further insights into this issue, this paper will place focus on the dossier of receipts, incorporating those still unpublished. Through close analysis of their palaeography and orthography, I will discuss whether it is possible to determine how many scribes wrote these texts, and the problems inherent in this analysis. I will also address whether they can be attributed to scribes from the monastery, through comparison with the rest of the dataset.

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