UC Berkeley Library

Papyri Concerning the Priests of Soknebtunis

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During their 1899/1900 expedition for UC Berkeley, Grenfell and Hunt uncovered a substantial group of papyri in the houses within the temple area of Tebtunis.  Dating to the second century CE, the texts inform us about the lives of the priests of the crocodile god Soknebtunis, the principal deity worshipped in the temple.

P. Tebt. 294 (from 147 CE) is an application by Pakebkis, son of Marsisouchos, for the purchase of the office of chief priest (prophetes).

Two documents are concerned with the circumcision of aspirants to the priestly office.  The first text (P. Tebt. 292) is an application to the strategos in which Isidora desires that her son and another relative be circumcised.  She asks the strategos to address a letter to the high priest.  The second text (P. Tebt. 293, circa 187 CE) is a sworn declaration furnished by four priests of Tebtunis to the strategos, certifying that a candidate for circumcision was indeed of priestly lineage and otherwise a suitable candidate.

P. Tebt. 304 (167/168 CE) suggests that priestly life in Tebtunis also had its more dangerous sides.  In this text Pakebkis informs the dekadarches of an assault made upon him and his brother.

For other texts from the dossier of the Priests of Soknebtunis, see P. Tebt. 295, 296, 299, 300, 301, 307, 308, 311, and 315.