Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists 48 (2011) 217-224
The Date of the Dendur Foundation
Grzegorz Ochala University of Warsaw
Reading a day date (27) rather than an indiction number (7) in the
Dendur foundation inscription (FHN 3.330) removes the basis for
dating it more precisely within the period ca. 536-569.
In November 1843, Richard Lepsius, travelling upstream along the Nile,
visited the northern Nubian site of Dendur,2 ca. 80 km south of Aswan. In the
Roman period, when the northern part of Lower Nubia, the so-called Dodekaschoinos, was a buffer zone between Roman Egypt and Meroe, a temple was
built in Dendur, dedicated to Isis and two local deities, the brothers Peteisis
and Pahor.3 Along with many Egyptian reliefs and inscriptions of Roman date
in this temple, Lepsius recorded a Coptic inscription of fourteen lines, incised
on the left jamb of the entrance to the pronaos and painted red. He included
a tracing of this text in one of the volumes of his Denkmuler.4 From that moment on the inscription has been a subject of ongoing discussion by students
of Christian Nubia. This does not need to be presented here in detail. The text
' The present article emanates from my doctoral thesis "Chronological Systems of
Christian Nubia;' prepared thanks to a scholarship granted by the President of the
Polish Academy of Sciences and defended at the University of Warsaw in June 2010. I
would like to express my gratitude to Adam Lajtar, Jacques van der Vliet, and Jitse Dijkstra, who have contributed to the present form of the text. I sincerely thank Dorothea
Arnold and the Metropolitan Museum of Art for permission to publish a photograph
of the inscription. Special thanks go to Giovanni Ruffini for correcting my English.
2 C.R. Lepsius, Briefe aus Aegypten, Aethiopien und der Halbinsel des Sinai (Berlin
3 A. Blackman, The Temple of Dendur (Cairo 1911) 82-84, and, most recently, G.
Zaki, Le Premier ANome de Haute-Egypte du i F siecle avant JC. au VIF siecle apres
J-C. d'apres les sources hiiroglyphiques des temples ptolimaiues et romains (Turnhou.t
2009) 249-251, 290.
4 C.R. Lepsius, Denkmdler aus Agypten und Athiopien (Berlin 1849-1859) 12.6: Pl.