UC Berkeley Library

Town of Tebtunis Papyri

Content section: 

Compared to the other three groups, these texts are the most diverse. For one thing, the town papyri yielded most of the literary fragments. Among them are more than a dozen fragments of Homer (Iliad and Odyssey), Demosthenes, and Dictys Cretensis.

A substantial portion of the papyri from the town concerns the priests of Soknebtunis.

Among other texts found in the town are a variety of legal documents: contracts, petitions, declarations, tax receipts. The majority of these documents date to the first three centuries CE, when Egypt was under Roman rule.

A Petition to a Governor

P. Tebt. 330 is a petition addressed to the strategos (district governor) by Ptolemaios, son of Patron. The text is not dated, but we know that the strategos Bolanos served between 196 and 198 CE. In the text, Ptolemaios reports the burglary of his house:

To Bolanos, strategos of the division of Themistos and Polemon of the Arsinoite nome, from Ptolemaios son of Patron, of the village of Tebtunis.

After being absent, when I returned to the village, I found my house pillaged and everything that was stored
in it carried off. Wherefore, being unable to submit to this, I apply to
you and ask that this petition may be entered on the register in
order that, if anyone is proved to be the culprit, he may be
held accountable to me.

Farewell.

A Petition to a Centurion, in Greek

In the petition P. Tebt. 333, a woman named Aurelia Tisais informs a centurion (military officer) of the disappearance of her father and brother on a hunting expedition. The text is dated to 22 December 216 CE:

To Aurelius Julius Marcellinus, centurion, from Aurelia Tisais, whose mother is Tais, formerly styled as an inhabitant of the village of Tebtunis in the division of Polemon.

My father Kalabalis, Sir, who is a hunter, set off with my brother
Neilos as long ago as the 3rd of the present month to hunt hares,
and up to this time they have not returned. I therefore suspect that
they have met with some accident, and I present this statement,
making this matter known to you, in order that if they have met
with any accident the persons found guilty may be held accountable to me. I happen to have also presented a copy of this notice to the
strategos Aurelius Idiomachos to be placed on the register.

The 25th year of Marcus Aurelius Severus
Antoninus Caesar the lord, Choiak 26.

Demotic Papyri

Again, along with these Greek papyri, a few demotic papyri were found in the town. These papyri mostly belong to two private archives, one of the oil merchant Phanesis, son of Nechthuris, dating to the late third century BCE, the other of Soknopis, son of Sigeris, dating to the late second and early first centuries BCE. 

The demotic papyri are earlier than most of the Greek papyri from the town. The use of Greek became more common later during the Ptolemaic and Roman periods.