Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists 48 (2011) 79-88
A Marriage-Gift of Part of a
Monastery from Byzantine Egypt
Jason Robert Combs University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
and Joseph G. Miller Duke University
Edition of P.Duk. inv. 7281 (sixth century CE2) appears to record the
marriage-gift of part of a monastery from the wife to the husband.
The Papyrus and the Hand
The shape of the papyrus is an uneven rectangle measuring no more than
30 cm long and 12.6 cm wide. Its color varies from light brown on either side
to darker shades of the same color at the very top, the very bottom, and in
the middle. At one point in the middle (corresponding to lines 10-11 of the
transcription provided below), the darkening of the papyrus coincides with
some severe abrasion of the text. There are no margins preserved at the top or
bottom of the document. The side margins vary between 1.5 and 1.8 cm on the
left and 0.01 and 2.5 cm on the right. Text appears only on the recto. Traces of
letters visible above the first line of legible text (line 2 of the transcription) show
that the opening lines of the original have been lost, an indication confirmed
by the fact that the first legible words on the papyrus begin in medias res. The
lack of any named parties to the agreement at the end of the papyrus, whether
principals or witnesses, suggests that the closing lines suffered a similar fate.
What the papyrus offers, then, is the intact middle portion of a document
whose header and footer are missing.
The writing on the papyrus is a relatively tidy hand typical of Byzantine
documents from the fifth and sixth centuries.3 The hand runs against the fi
' P.Duk. inv. 728 was purchased for the Duke University Library in 1976 along with
inv. 230-231 and inv. 729. See http://scriptorium.lib.duke.edu/papyrus/texts/acquisitions.html, accessed 2011. The other pieces are magical texts. We would like to thank
Rodney Ast, Joshua D. Sosin, and the anonymous reviewers of BASP for their incisive
criticism of earlier drafts.
2 Unless otherwise specified, all dates given are CE.
3 For a standard sampling of such hands, see R. Seider, Paldographie der griechischen
Papyri 1 (Stuttgart 1967) 50-59.