ï~~Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists 46 (2009) 225-228
Nikos Litinas, Greek Ostraca from Abu Mina (O.Abu Mina). Archiv
fuir Papyrusforschung, Beiheft 25. Berlin and New York: Walter de
Gruyter, 2008. xi + 335 pages + 35 plates. ISBN 978-3-11-020118-5.
This volume contains the edition of 1446 ostraca from Abu Mina. There
are 1088 editions and 358 descriptions of texts. Of the latter, 339 are contributed by Patrick Robinson and Georgina Fantoni. Almost all ostraca were found
in the Ostraca House. Ostraca had been found at Abu Mina earlier and appear
at SB 1.4640-4649 and 12.10990. Especially the latter group (107 texts, one SB
number), with the commentary by D. Wortmann in ZPE 8 (1971) 41-69, provides the framework for the interpretation of the texts in this volume.
The editor (pp. 8-9) distinguishes two main types of texts. First, receipts
for the delivery of grapes in donkey and, less common, camel loads. (Note the
use of camels in this context; camels were a common feature at Abu Mina; cf.
the standard representation of St. Menas with a camel.) Second, orders for payment of wine in K6oXXCaOCa (p. 11) of 25 sextarii each. The idea that the receipts
would later have been exchanged for a certain quantity of wine explains why
these ostraca were found together with the orders for payment in the Ostraca
House, which was eventually used to deposit part of the administration of the
Winery located only 50 meters to its immediate south. From the archaeology
the deposit of the ostraca can be dated to immediately after the Arab conquest
(pp. ix-xi). After the Persian conquest and partial destruction of the site, there
was an attempt to restore the site along the same lines as before, i.e. by the
melkites traditionally running the pilgrimage center. After the Arab conquest
the Copts took over.
All in all the ostraca give us the names of over 300 individuals who lived
in the area of Abu Mina over a period of a couple or so indiction cycles prior
to the Arab conquest (as explained on pp. 16-19). All the ostraca with exact
dates (listed pp. 19-23) fall in the period Mesore-Thoth, the time of the grape
harvest in Egypt. The editor (pp. 25-38) distinguishes many different hands or
groups of hands at work on these texts from a relatively short period.
The receipts are written on small (6 x 8 cm on average) triangular sherds
of imported pottery, which (less porous than local Egyptian pottery) was apparently deemed more suitable for writing and at least available in plenty at
the site. Typical examples of the texts are as follows:
1:t ATr. 'Iwvvov MaKpivov 6V(tKGi) pope (1. popicd) P 60 F6(vov)
29: t HIap(ao)X(ov) 'IctKOd3 1ova(ovt) (i'p) Tpvy( ) K(6OXXa)0(OV)
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