Featured Object: Oxyrhynchus Papyrus, No. 932: Letter, Thaius to Tigrius (Fragment)
- Post Date: 6/24/2008
- Reading Time: 6 minute read
This 2nd century letter, written in Greek, on papyrus, was one of thousands of papyri unearthed at the site of Oxyrhynchus in Egypt. Ten miles west of the Nile, located in Middle Egypt, Oxyrhynchus was the regional capital during Ptolemaic and Roman rule and may have housed as many as 6000 people at its height. Today, the modern village of el-Bahnasa lies on a portion of this ancient city.
Oxyrhynchus was first excavated between 1897–1907 by B. P. Grenfell and A. S. Hunt of Queen's College, Oxford in conjunction with the Egypt Exploration Fund. Thousands of papyri such as this letter were extracted from refuse dumps along the edge of town containing discarded manuscripts from archives that dated between the Roman and Early Islamic periods. As a subscribing member to the Egypt Exploration Fund and in return for generous donations to the Fund, Mr. W. G Hibbard named the former Classical Museum at the University of Illinois as a recipient of some of the excavated material. The Museum acquired more than 720 Egyptian artifacts, including 29 Oxyrhynchus papyri, in this manner.
The papyri from Oxyrhynchus tell us a great deal about daily life in Egypt during the Roman Period, including political, financial, personal, and religious concerns. This papyrus fragment contains a letter from a woman named Thaius to a relative or friend, Tigrius, who is to take care of some agricultural business for Thaius. Some of the details of the letter are obscure.
The papyrus may be translated as follows:
"Thais to her own Tigrius, greeting.
I wrote to Apolinarius to come to Petne for the measuring. Apolinarius will tell you how the situation stands concerning the deposits and public dues. He will let you know the name of the person involved.
If you come, take out six measures of vegetable seed and seal them in the sacks, so that they may be ready. And if you can, please go up and find out about the donkey.
Sarapodora and Sabinus salute you. Do not sell the young pigs without consulting me. Good bye."