Like all major collections of Egyptian antiquities, the Museo Egizio houses a considerable number of artifacts that are commonly classed as “Coptic”. These very diverse objects, some of which belong to the earliest core of the collection, share a background in Egypt’s Christian culture. They date from the late antique and early medieval periods, when Egypt and its southern neighbor, Nubia, were predominantly Christian. During these centuries, Egypt was part of the Roman (Byzantine) empire and, from 642 onwards, of the successive Islamic califates. Nubia remained politically independent until the end of the fifteenth century.

The present article focuses on one specific category of artifacts, namely monumental stone inscriptions from Christian Egypt and Nubia. In the case of the Turin collection, all of these inscriptions are of a funerary nature.1 This means that they are epitaphs and that their original setting was the Christian tomb. As part of the tomb, the epitaphs were at the center of commemorative liturgical practices, focused on the person of the deceased. For this reason, they always contain his or her name and often also the date of his or her death as minimal elements, frequently expanded by acclamations or prayers for the repose of the deceased’s soul.2

Some of the epitaphs take the form of richly decorated stelae, others are simple stone slabs. In their decoration, but also in their textual formulae, they show a considerable amount of regional variety, as the examples in the Turin collection amply illustrate. Several urban centers, such as Panopolis or Hermonthis, and individual monasteries, such as those at Saqqara and Aswan, had their own distinctive styles of epitaphs. Those in the Turin collection date from about the fifth century to the very end of the twelfth, when the tradition of sculptured tombstones, inherited from antiquity, petered out. They are inscribed in either of the two written languages of Christian Egypt, Greek or Coptic, sometimes in both.3

The article aims at guiding the reader through this particular segment of the collection, on the basis of an inventory produced with the aid of the museum staff, in particular Susanne Töpfer and Federico2 Poole, during a visit in October 2018. It consists of two parts. The first briefly presents the important and well explored collection of Nubian epitaphs. This part does not offer texts. The second part is devoted to the less generally known collection of epitaphs from Egypt. In addition to a listing according to their current inventory numbers, it offers the full text and translation of all the inscriptions, presented in a geographical order. This format should result in a structured overview of the entire collection, making it easily available for future museological, art-historical or epigraphic research.

Greek and Coptic epitaphs from northern Nubia

The Museo Egizio holds a collection of twenty-five funerary stelae from different sites in northern Nubia, ancient Nobadia, between the first and the second Nile cataracts. Three groups can be distinguished, corresponding to fairly precisely defined provenances. In geographical order from north to south, these are: a group of three Greek epitaphs from the vicinity of Taphis (Tafa) and Talmis (Kalabsha), in the former Dodekaschoinos; a group of twenty Coptic and Greek epitaphs from Sakinya, in the Toshka-West district, and, finally, two Greek stelae from Faras.

As the Nubian epitaphs are all available in accessible and reliable editions, no texts are provided here. In due time, moreover, it will be possible to check technical details in the online catalogue of the museum, which will eventually comprise a full photographic documentation. In the listings below, in addition to the standard corpora of Gustave Lefebvre (cited as I. Lefebvre) and Maria Grazia Tibiletti Bruno (Iscrizioni Nubiane, tagged TB), and Sammelbuch (SB) references as far as applicable,4 for each item the numbers of the digital Database of Medieval Nubian Texts (DBMNT) are cited. For fuller bibliographical and technical information, the reader is referred to this freely accessible database.5

Greek epitaphs from the Taphis-Talmis area

The first group consists of three Greek epitaphs for women, one of which (Cat. 7143) is dated to the equivalent of AD 699. Their provenance is unrecorded. Already in 1925, however, in his seminal study of Christian epitaphs from Nubia, Hermann Junker was able to attribute the stelae to the Taphis-Talmis area on the basis of their textual format.6 More recent studies have only confirmed the correctness of his insights.7

The three stelae must have been acquired before 1850, when Gustav Seyffarth first published two of the three pieces, Cat. 7144 and Provv. 3322.8 Actually, Seyffarth intended to publish three Turin stelae from Nubia, which he grouped under his nos. IX-XI, quoting Turin museum numbers B.A. 6329 (his no. IX = Cat. 7144), B.A. 6330 (his no. X = Provv. 3322), and B.A. 3321 (his no. XI, presumably Turin Cat. 7143). Instead of the latter epitaph, however, he erroneously printed the text of the stela of a woman Mary from the Musée du Louvre (I. Lefebvre 655).9 Seyffarth’s confusion can be easily explained. Both the Louvre stela of Mary and Turin stela Cat. 7143 are plain epitaphs for women, opening with an identical formula of the ἔνθα κατάκειται-type, quite similar to each other as well as to Turin Provv. 3322.10

In spite of Seyffarth’s obvious error, his 1850 edition underlines the coherence of this group of three stelae that must originate from a single source, most probably the collection of Bernardino Drovetti (1776-1852), acquired in the 1820s.11 The stelae would accordingly belong to the wave of similar monuments from the Taphis-Talmis area that reached European collections in the 1810s and 1820s.123

Table 1

Museo Egizio I. Lefebvre TB SB DBMNT
Cat. 7143 661 43 499
Cat. 7144 659 24 2034 497
Provv. 3322 660 58 498

Greek and Coptic epitaphs from Sakinya (Toshka-West)

The extensive Christian necropolis of Sakinya, in the district of Toshka-West in central Nobadia, between Qasr Ibrim and Faras, was excavated in January 1933 by Ugo Monneret de Villard (1881–1954). The over 300 Greek and Coptic epitaphs discovered at the site were partitioned afterwards. A vast majority ended up in the Coptic Museum in Cairo, while smaller lots were assigned to the Greco-Roman Museum in Alexandria and the Museo Nazionale Romano delle Terme in Rome. Twenty pieces from the Roman Museo Nazionale were permanenty deposited at the Museo Egizio in 1968 and catalogued as Suppl. 18156–18175. They were subsequently edited with accompanying photos by Sergio Pernigotti in 1975.13 Three further epitaphs from Sakinya, copied by Monneret de Villard in 1933, have not been located since and may have disappeared at any stage following their discovery.14

Pernigotti’s edition replaces two earlier ones, a first one by Monneret de Villard himself, published in 1933, which did not cover all of the Sakinya material,15 and a second, complete one by Togo Mina, dating from 1942. Togo Mina, however, no longer had access to the originals of the Turin stelae.16 Since the latter publication retains its value, as it alone grants access to the whole of this extremely important find, it is included in the concordance given below (tagged as Mina). A useful concordance based on his own numbers and including those of Monneret de Villard’s editio princeps can be found in Pernigotti’s edition and is not reprinted here.17

Table 2

Museo Egizio Pernigotti Mina DBMNT
Suppl. 18156 19 311 389
Suppl. 18157 13 265 345
Suppl. 18158 14 300 379
Suppl. 18159 5 117 200
Suppl. 18160 4 135 216
Suppl. 18161 6 128 210
Suppl. 18162 17 302 381
Suppl. 18163 20 313 391
Suppl. 18164 11 210 290
Suppl. 18165 9 181 262
Suppl. 1816618 15 296 375
Suppl. 18167 18 284 363
Suppl. 18168 1 141 222
Suppl. 18169 7 113 196
Suppl. 18170 8 159 240
Suppl. 18171 3 134 215
Suppl. 18172 16 293 372
Suppl. 18173 10 254 334
Suppl. 18174 12 276 356
Suppl. 18175 2 130 212

Greek epitaphs from Faras

This small group consists of two stelae acquired4 in 1820 by Carlo Vidua, Count of Conzano (1785-1830), at a site called Colasucia (Kolasûča), just south of the citadel of Faras.19 A new edition of the younger of the two monuments (Cat. 7142, dated to AD 1184), for a long time attributed to a fictitious Bishop Tamer, has been published quite recently.20 The second stela, commemorating a woman Kouseimeia (Cat. 7141), must be several centuries older than the other, judging by its script; it does not require a re-edition.21

Table 3

Museo Egizio I. Lefebvre TB SB DBMNT
Cat. 7141 635 19 8727 80
Cat. 7142 636 8 8728 78

Greek and Coptic epitaphs from Egypt

Compared to the well documented and focused Nubian collection, its Egyptian counterpart is poorly published and far more heterogeneous and haphazard in its composition. Table 4, which follows the order of the numbering systems of the museum currently in use, bears this out. The four Cat. 7130 numbers, all in Coptic, are pre-1850 acquisitions from Abydos (two) and the Antinoopolite-Hermopolite region (another two), all presumably from the Drovetti collection.22 A second heterogeneous group consists of Suppl. 1330 numbers that were acquired in the Egyptian commerce by Ernesto Schiaparelli (1856-1928) in 1900-1901, but do not betray a single provenance otherwise.23 Two items, Suppl. 2201 and 2202, are from Schiaparelli’s excavations at Ashmunayn (ancient Hermopolis). Suppl. 1338, a reused stone, bears two completely different texts. Only four inscriptions are accessible through I. Lefebvre or SB Kopt. entries.24

Table 4

Museo Egizio handbook entries edition
Cat. 7130 SB Kopt. I, 486 no. 9
Cat. 7131 no. 10
Cat. 7132 no. 5
Cat. 7133 SB Kopt. I, 467 no. 4
Suppl. 1332 I. Lefebvre 112 no. 2
Suppl. 1335 I. Lefebvre 113 no. 1
Suppl. 1337 no. 12
Suppl. 1338 nos. 11-12
Suppl. 2201 no. 6
Suppl. 2202 no. 7
Suppl. 18116 no. 14
Suppl. 18125 no. 15
Provv. 1580 no. 16
Provv. 4817 no. 3
Provv. 4871 no. 8

The remainder of this article is devoted to editions, in a few cases re-editions, of the altogether sixteen texts on these fifteen monuments. They are presented here in an approximate geographical order, from north to south. For none of the items, however, is5 reliable information on their find context available. Only a single text, Cat. 7132 (our no. 5), contains a legible toponym. The sometimes rather general provenances proposed below are therefore mostly based upon comparison with other epitaphs, using criteria provided by the monuments themselves, in particular material, textual format and iconography. A similar reservation applies to the dates given below. Only Cat. 7130 and 7131 (nos. 9-10) bear legible absolute dates. For the others, any attempt at dating is necessarily based upon fairly soft criteria, such as the paleography and, in a general manner, the style of the pieces.

The monuments edited below originate from either the Fayum province (nos. 1-3) or Upper Egypt, the Nile valley south of Cairo and north of the first cataract. Within the latter area, the stones can be assigned, though not in each case with complete certainty, to one of three regions. These are the wider area around ancient Antinoopolis and Hermopolis, in Middle Egypt (nos. 4-8), Abydos (nos. 9-10), and southern Upper Egypt, that is, the Theban region and further south (nos. 11-16). With the exception of the small group of two Abydos stelae, these regional clusters are internally far from homogeneous, however.

The following editions respect as much as possible the disposition of the originals, yet all conventional abbreviations, including so-called nomina sacra, are resolved, using round brackets. Linguistically Greek text is transcribed in standard minuscules, Coptic text in a Coptic uncial font, even though the monuments may use a single script for both.25 For editorial symbols, such as the various types of brackets, the so-called Leiden system is followed.26 If an inscription has been edited before, the text may be followed, for the sake of clarity, by a double apparatus, one paleographical, a second one recording the variae lectiones of the previous editors. The two epitaphs from Abydos (Cat. 7130 and 7131) have recently been studied elsewhere within a broader context and are therefore only summarily presented here (nos. 9-10). Our no. 12 is a dedicatory inscription, reused for the epitaph on its reverse (no. 11). For obvious reasons, both pieces are published together here.

1. Funerary monument of a woman, Gerosa

  • Suppl. 1335.
  • Acquired in commerce in Egypt by Ernesto Schiaparelli in 1900-1901.
  • Fayum, ca. 5th-6th cent.
  • A rectangular limestone slab, 46 × 26 × 7.5 cm, irregularly broken at the top. It depicts, in raised relief, the figure of a woman, standing on a plinth in a praying gesture (orante). The woman is depicted de face and wears a long and wide tunic that shows only the tips of her shoes, a long shawl, and a scarf. At either side of her head one sloping line of text is written in rather crudely incised uncials of uneven size.
  • Bibliography: unpublished. Cf. Badawy, Coptic Art6 and Archaeology, 1978, p. 211 (brief discussion), p. 213, fig. 3.195 (photo).

Funerary monument of a woman, Gerosa. Turin, Museo Egizio, Suppl. 1335. Photo by Nicola Dell’Aquila and Federico Taverni/Museo Egizio.

  • Γερ|όσα
  • Gerosa.

Gerosa must be the name of the deceased, depicted on the stela as a praying female figure. Her name is unattested elsewhere. It is hardly likely that it was conceived of as the feminine of the Greek proper name Γέρων (“Elder”).27

Both the style and the iconography of the monument are clearly indicative of a Fayum provenance. Standing praying figures (orantes), usually female, within an architectural frame (aedicula) are a frequent feature of late antique stelae from the Fayum and continue an ancient iconographic tradition.28 For the figure of the woman, the Moscow stela of Matrona (Pushkin Museum, no. I, 1a 5835) offers a close parallel. It was purchased in Luxor, but is in every respect a pure representative of the Fayum style.29 The Turin stela is exceptional in that it lacks an architectural frame and a proper funerary formulary. As for the absence of a frame, it cannot be fully excluded that the stone was trimmed in modern times to look more “presentable”. The brevity of the inscription, which lacks a prayer and even the date of decease of Gerosa, might point at a relatively early date, perhaps in the fifth or sixth century.

2. Funerary monument of a lector

  • Suppl. 1332.
  • Acquired in commerce in Egypt by Ernesto Schiaparelli in 1900-1901.
  • Fayum, 7th-8th cent.
  • A rectangular limestone slab, 57 × 34.5 × 10 cm, richly sculptured. The decoration features a cross within an aedicula in raised relief as its central motif. The equal branches of the cross consist of flower petals. Similar petals sprout from the four inner corners of a four-lobed frame that surrounds the cross and fill in the space within the aedicula. The latter consists of two small columns on stepped pedestals, crowned by floral capitals that carry a tympanum with curled acroteria. The tympanum is decorated with a guilloche-like motive that follows its upper rims. Its center shows a standing cross flanked by alpha and omega. Three engraved horizontal lines frame the upper part of the aedicula and mark it off from the epigraphic field above. The epigraphic field occupies the uppermost part of the stela. It contains seven lines of Greek text, consisting of upright uncials of somewhat varying size, engraved in a rather stiff and angular hand. Both broken-bar symmetric and left-looking alphas are used; the ψ in l. 2 has a simple cross shape. In l. 5, the indiction date is followed by a cross; the (lost) numeral in l. 6 is preceded by a decorative device resembling a small tau with two lines above. In l. 7, the four letters of the Amen and (presumably) a following cross (now lost) have been evenly spaced so as to take up the whole length of the line. The stone has been re-used as the socket of a door-hinge and shows considerable damage in particular in its lower7 left- and upper right-hand parts, which seriously affects the text.
  • Bibliography: I. Lefebvre 112 (editio princeps).

Funerary monument of a lector. Turin, Museo Egizio, Suppl. 1332. Photo by Nicola Dell’Aquila and Federico Taverni/Museo Egizio.

  • [epigraphic field]
  • ☩ Κ(ύρι)ε, ἀνάπα[υσον τὴν]
  • ψηχὴν τοῦ τούλου <σου> Χρι̣[ . . . . . . . ἀν-]
  • 3. αγνώστου τοῦ ἁγίου [ . ]α̣μ̣ . [ . . ]
  • ἐκυμήθη ἐν κυρίῳ μιν[ὶ]
  • Φαρμοῦθι κθʹ, ἰν`δʹ(ικτίονος) ιεʹ ☩ ἔτο̣υ[ς]
  • 6. Διοκλιδιανοῦ ⸎ [ . . . ]
  • vac. μ vac. ή vac. vac. ☩]
  • [tympanum]
  • ⲁ ☩ ⲱ

2. ψηχὴν: ψυχὴν | τούλου: δούλου || 4. ἐκυμήθη: ἐκοιμήθη | μιν[ὶ] : μηνὶ || 6. Διοκλιδιανοῦ: Διοκλητιανοῦ

2. Χρι̣[ : χρ[ Lefebvre || 3. ]α̣μ̣ . [ : ] . ω [ Lefebvre || 4. μιν[ὶ]: μινε̣ι̣ Lefebvre || 5. ἔτο̣υ[ς]: ετ[ο]υσ̣ Lefebvre || 6. Διοκλιδιανοῦ: Διοκλεδιανου Lefebvre

+ Lord, grant rest to the soul of your servant Chri[ . . . ], lector of (the church of) Saint [ . . .]. He fell asleep in the Lord in the month of Pharmouthi 29, (year) of the indiction 15, + of the year of Diocletian [ . . . ]. Amen. + Alpha + Omega.

2. Not enough of the name of the deceased survives to allow a confident reconstruction. The space seems a bit cramped for a popular name such as Christodoros or Christophoros, although both are well attested in the Fayum (see Diethart, Prosopographia arsinoitica, 1980, pp. 337–38; among the lectors listed by Diethart at p. 371, none bears a name that would fit the traces).

3. The name of the church to which the deceased was affected cannot be reconstructed with any certainty. Pamoun, Pamouthios or Samuel might fit the very faint traces, but none of these saints are known to have had a cult in the Fayum in this period (seventh-eighth centuries). The question of the name is therefore best left open.

5. The raised delta in the abbreviation for “indiction” looks deceptively like a theta due to damage to the surface of the stone.

According to Gustave Lefebvre, in his editio princeps, the stela had been acquired by Schiaparelli in the Fayum, together with our no. 11 (re-edited below). This is not confirmed by the museum documentation and clearly belied by the nature and appearance of our no. 11. It is far more likely that both stelae were purchased in Cairo or Giza.30 Nevertheless, the material, formulary, style and iconography of the present monument are all unmistakable indications of a Fayum provenance. Close parallels for the iconographic type, which shows a cross in an aedicula as its central motif,31 are offered by the stelae of Thecla (Cairo, Coptic Museum 8598)32 and the pastry baker Damian from Sinnuris (present location unknown).33 As was already observed by Lefebvre, however, the closest parallel is offered by the stela of the meizoteros Apa Ol, now in Cairo (Coptic Museum 8599).34 This stela reportedly originates from Damanhur in the Delta, yet represents a pure Fayum style. It is dated to the equivalent of AD 693 and thus provides a fairly reliable date for the Turin monument, where the Diocletian year in l. 6 is broken away.

The funerary formulary is characterized by the opening phrase Κύριε, ἀνάπαυσον, “O Lord, grant rest” (etc.), and the use of the middle voice of the verb κοιμάω for designating the death event (“to fall asleep, pass away”). Both elements are a common feature of similar epitaphs from the Fayum.35

The deceased commemorated by the inscription was a lector serving a church, the name of which is lost, perhaps in the city of Arsinoe itself.36 His lavishly decorated tombstone suggests that he was a man of some means.37

3. Cross-shaped funerary monument of a man, Phoibamon

  • Provv. 4817.
  • Circumstances of acquisition unknown.
  • Fayum, ca. 7th-9th cent.
  • Limestone monument, 41 × 21.5 × 9 cm, in the form of a freestanding croix pattée with a relatively short transverse beam. The branches of the cross still bear the mason’s construction lines in the middle. The four branches are inscribed with an epitaph of fourteen brief lines in Fayumic Coptic, leaving a blank margin at the bottom of the cross. The script exhibits badly ruled, rather irregular incised uncials, with an inelegant, squarish beta in l. 8. Both broken-bar symmetric and left-looking alphas are used. The8 monument is broken below the transverse beam in modern times, without loss of text.
  • Bibliography: unpublished.

Cross-shaped funerary monument of a man, Phoibamon. Turin, Museo Egizio, Provv. 4817. Photo by Nicola Dell’Aquila and Federico Taverni/Museo Egizio.

  • ⲡⲛⲟⲩϯ ⲡⲁⲛⲧⲱ-
  • ⲕⲣⲁⲧⲱⲣ ⲁⲗⲓ ⲟⲩ-
  • 3. ⲛⲉⲓ̈ ⲙⲛ ⲟⲩ-
  • ⲁⲛⲁⲡⲁⲩ-
  • ⲥⲓⲥ ⲙⲛ
  • 6. ⲧⲉⲯⲏ-
  • ⲭⲏ
  • ⲛⲡⲙⲁ(ⲕⲁ)ⲣⲓⲟⲥ ⲫⲟⲓⲃⲁ-
  • 9. ⲙⲱⲛ ⲁϥⲉⲙⲧⲁⲛ
  • ⲛⲙ<ⲁϥ>
  • ⲥⲟⲩ ⲓ̅ⲍ̅
  • 12. ⲛⲙⲉϣⲓⲗ
  • ⲓⲇ ⲓⲛⲇ(ⲓⲕⲧⲓⲟⲛⲟⲥ) ϩⲁ-
  • ⲙⲏⲛ

5. ⲙⲛ: inverted || 10. ⲙⲙⲁϥ || 13. ⲓⲛⲇ(ⲓⲕⲧⲓⲟⲛⲟⲥ): ⲓⲛⲇ/ stone.

+ God almighty, grant mercy and rest to the soul of the blessed Phoibamon. He went to rest on the 17 th of Mechir, (year) 14 of the indiction. Amen.

1. The cross is a croix fourchée. Note the full writing of ⲡⲛⲟⲩϯ, instead of the abbreviation ⲫ̅ϯ̅, which is commonly used in Fayumic epigraphy.

8. ⲛⲡⲙⲁ(ⲕⲁ)ⲣⲓⲟⲥ: the abbreviation (or simple error?) ⲙⲁ(ⲕⲁ)ⲣⲓⲟⲥ / ⲙⲁ(ⲕⲁ)ⲣⲓⲁ occurs more often in Nubian epitaphs, but is rarely found elsewhere (see Richter, in Hodak et al. [eds.], Coptica, 2013, no. 85, ll. 2–3, with commentary; cf. also the abbreviation ⲙⲁ(ⲕⲁ)ⲣ(ⲓⲟⲥ) in SB Kopt. I, 531, l. 4, from Aswan).

10. ⲛⲙ<ⲁϥ>: it is unclear whether the mason erroneously omitted –ⲁϥ or purposely meant the same group in ⲁϥⲉⲙⲧⲁⲛ (l. 9, immediately above) to do double service in order to save space.

12. The Fayumic form of the month name, ⲙⲉϣⲓⲗ, is fairly rare, but occurs also in the epitaph of Ama Maria, presumably from the Fayum (SB Kopt. IV, 1966, l. 4; Jarry, BIFAO 67 [1969], p. 233, no. 1, pl. LXVIII; Boud’hors and Calament, in Immerzeel and Van der Vliet [eds.], Coptic Studies, 2004, p. 465, no. 17).

The language of the inscription, Fayumic Coptic with its characteristic lambdacisms, leaves no doubt about the provenance of this nice monument. It belongs to a well-documented group of funerary stelae in an (often approximate) cross-form from the Fayum and the adjacent area of the Nile Valley.38 A more intricate parallel is offered by the Fayumic stela of a woman Martha, acquired by the British Museum in 1931.39 Much closer, for the shape of the cross, is the stela of Eulogia and Ane, also in the British Museum, of which the provenance is unknown, however.40 Such freestanding crosses, of which our no. 8 offers another example, must have crowned the superstructure of a tomb. Particularly popular in the Fayum, they occur also elsewhere in Egypt and Nubia, as well as far beyond.41

The text is very similar to that of the cross-shaped epitaph of Martha in the British Museum, mentioned above. It likewise bears an opening invocation of “God almighty” (παντοκράτωρ) and a prayer formula of the “have mercy”-type (in Fayumic ⲁⲗⲓ ⲟⲩⲛⲉⲓ ⲙⲛ or ⲙⲉ), both of which are common in particular in the Fayum and throughout Middle Egypt.42 Note, however, that in the present case, the prayer formula is expanded into ⲁⲗⲓ ⲟⲩⲛⲉⲓ ⲙⲛ ⲟⲩⲁⲛⲁⲡⲁⲩⲥⲓⲥ ⲙⲛ, “grant9 mercy and rest”, which is not habitual and produces a slightly scrambled text (more usual would be: ⲁⲗⲓ ⲟⲩⲛⲉⲓ ⲙⲛ and / or ϯ ⲟⲩⲁⲛⲁⲡⲁⲩⲥⲓⲥ ⲛ-). The proper name Phoibamon (Phoibammon) was extremely popular in the late antique Fayum.43

4. Funerary stela of a mason, Epimache

  • Cat. 7133. Obsolete signatures mentioned in previous publications are B.A. 6337 (Seyffarth) and 137 (Revillout, SB Kopt.).
  • Acquired before 1850 (date of the first edition); possibly from the Drovetti collection.
  • Middle Egypt, vicinity of Antinoopolis or Hermopolis, ca. 8th cent.
  • A complete and well-preserved rectangular slab of light-brown marble, 42 × 34 × 3.5 cm. The slab is inscribed with eleven lines of text in Sahidic Coptic, written in nice though slightly stiff and narrow epigraphic majuscules, with a characteristic alpha, the right-hand leg ending in a left-looking curl at the top. A twelfth line consists of a croix fourchée flanked by decorative zigzag patterns. In spite of the clearly careful execution, the text shows some odd spellings and scribal omissions (twice corrected above the line in ll. 1 and 8). All iotas bear a diaeresis (trema), even when there is no visible justification (as for instance in ⲛⲓ̈ⲙ, l. 9).
  • Bibliography: Seyffarth, ZDMG 4 (1850), p. 255, no. V (editio princeps); Stern, ZÄS 16 (1878), p. 25, n. 2 (re-edition); Revillout, Revue égyptologique 4 (1885), p. 4, no. 4 (re-edition); Leclercq, Dictionnaire 4/1 (1920), col. 450 (text after Revillout); SB Kopt. I, 467 (text after Revillout). Cf. von Lemm, ZDPV 8 (1885), p. 68 (quotes ll. 1–6 after Stern); Fabretti, Catalogo generale, 1888, p. 311, no. 7133 (brief description); Papaconstantinou, Culte des saints, 2001, p. 57 (quotes the invocation in ll. 1–2, after SB Kopt.).

Funerary stela of a mason, Epimache. Turin, Museo Egizio, Cat. 7133. Photo by Nicola Dell’Aquila and Federico Taverni/Museo Egizio.

  • ⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲛⲛϫ`ⲓ̈´ⲥⲟⲟⲩ ⲛⲛⲁ-
  • ⲡⲟⲥⲧⲟⲗⲟⲥ ⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ ⲉⲕⲉⲣ ⲟ-
  • 3. ⲩⲛⲁ ⲙⲛ ⲧⲉⲯⲏⲭⲏ ⲙⲡ<ⲙ>ⲁⲕⲁⲣⲓ̈ⲟⲥ
  • ⲉⲡⲓ̈ⲙⲁⲭⲉ ⲡⲉⲕⲱⲧ ⲛ̇ⲧⲁϥⲉⲙ-
  • ⲧⲟⲛ ⲙⲙⲟϥ ⲛⲥⲟⲩ ⲙⲏⲛⲧⲁϥⲧⲉ
  • 6. ⲙⲡⲉⲃⲟⲧ ⲡⲁⲱⲛⲉ ⲛⲧⲓ̈ⲣⲟⲙⲡⲉ
  • ⲧⲁⲓ̈ < . . . >ⲕⲉⲧⲉⲕⲁⲧⲉⲥ ⲛⲧⲉⲕⲧⲓ̈ⲁⲛⲟⲥ
  • ⲁⲣⲓ̈ ⲧⲁⲕⲁⲡⲉ ϣ`ⲗ´ⲏⲣ ⲉϫⲱⲓ̈ ⲟⲩⲟⲛ
  • 9. ⲛⲓ̈ⲙ ⲉⲧⲥⲟⲟⲩ<ⲛ> ⲙⲙⲟⲓ̈ ⲧⲉ ⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ
  • ⲉⲓ̈ⲣ ⲟⲩⲛⲁ ⲙⲛ ⲧⲁⲯⲏⲭⲏ ⲛⲧⲁⲣⲉⲡⲟ-
  • ⲣⲟⲥ ϩⲁⲙⲏⲛ ⲉϥ<ⲉ>ϣⲱⲡⲉ ⲓ̈(ⲏⲥⲟⲩ)ⲥ ⲭ(ⲣⲓⲥⲧⲟ)ⲥ
  • 12.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;

5. ⲙⲏⲛⲧⲁϥⲧⲉ: ⲙⲛⲧⲁϥⲧⲉ || 7. < . . . >ⲕⲉⲧⲉⲕⲁⲧⲉⲥ ⲛⲧⲉⲕⲧⲓ̈ⲁⲛⲟⲥ: < . . . >καιδεκάτης ἰνδικτίονος (see comm.) || 8. ϣ`ⲗ´ⲏⲣ: ϣⲗⲏⲗ || 9. ⲧⲉ: ⲛⲧⲉ || 10. ⲉⲓ̈ⲣ: ⲉⲣ or ⲣ̄ || 9-10. ⲛⲧⲁⲣⲉⲡⲟ|ⲣⲟⲥ: ταλαίπωρος

1. ⲛⲛϫ`ⲓ̈´ⲥⲟⲟⲩ: ⲛⲛϫⲥⲟⲟⲩⲛ Seyffarth, ⲛⲛϫⲥⲟⲟⲩ Stern || 1-2. ⲛⲛⲁ|ⲡⲟⲥⲧⲟⲗⲟⲥ: ⲛⲛⲁ|ⲕⲟⲥⲧⲟⲗⲟⲥ Leclercq || 3. ⲧⲉⲯⲏⲭⲏ: ⲧⲉⲯⲩⲭⲏ Seyffarth, Revillout, SB Kopt., ⲧⲉⲫⲩⲭⲏ Leclercq | ⲙⲡ<ⲙ>ⲁⲕⲁⲣⲓ̈ⲟⲥ: ⲙⲙⲁⲕⲁⲣⲓ̈ⲟⲥ Seyffarth, ⲙⲡⲙⲁⲕⲁⲣⲓⲟⲥ Revillout, Leclercq, SB Kopt. || 5. ⲙⲏⲛⲧⲁϥⲧⲉ: ⲙⲛⲧⲁϥⲧⲉ Revillout, SB Kopt., ⲙⲛⲧⲁϥⲡⲉ Leclercq || 6. ⲛⲧⲓ̈ⲣⲟⲙⲡⲉ: ⲛ ⲧⲣⲟⲙⲡⲉ Stern || 7. ⲛⲧⲉⲕⲧⲓ̈ⲁⲛⲟⲥ: ⲛⲧⲉⲕⲧⲓ̈ⲟⲛⲟⲥ Seyffarth || 8. ϣ`ⲗ´ⲏⲣ: ϣⲏⲏⲣ Seyffarth, ϣⲏⲣ Stern, Revillout, Leclercq, SB Kopt. || 9. ⲉⲧⲥⲟⲟⲩ<ⲛ>: ⲉⲅⲥⲟⲟⲩ Seyffarth, ⲉⲧⲥⲟⲟⲩⲛ Revillout, Leclercq, SB Kopt. || 10. ⲉⲓ̈ⲣ: ⲉⲓⲣ̄ Stern | ⲧⲁⲯⲏⲭⲏ: ⲧⲁⲯⲩⲭⲏ Seyffarth, Revillout, Leclercq, SB Kopt. || 10-11. ⲛⲧⲁⲣⲉⲡⲟ|ⲣⲟⲥ: ⲛⲧⲁϩⲉⲡⲟ|ⲣⲟⲥ Seyffarth || 11. ⲉϥ<ⲉ>ϣⲱⲡⲉ: ⲉϥϣⲱⲡⲉ ⲡⲉ Seyffarth, ⲉϥⲉϣⲱⲡⲏ Revillout, Leclercq, SB Kopt. || 12. om. Seyffarth, Revillout, Leclercq, SB Kopt.

+ God of the Lords, the Holy Apostles, may you have mercy upon the soul of the blessed Epimache, the mason10, who went to rest on the fourteenth of the month Paone of this very year, a < … >teenth indiction. Please, pray for me, everyone who knew me, that God may have mercy upon my miserable soul. Amen, so be it. Jesus Christ! +

1. The cross is a croix fourchée. Stern translated the invocation correctly, but all other translators from Revillout onwards interpreted the phrase ⲛⲛϫ`ⲓ̈´ⲥⲟⲟⲩ ⲛⲛⲁⲡⲟⲥⲧⲟⲗⲟⲥ as “of our Lords, the Apostles”, which would demand an unnecessary emendation ⲛ<ⲛⲉ>ⲛϫ`ⲓ̈´ⲥⲟⲟⲩ, however.

2-3. Prayers for God’s mercy (ⲛⲁ) are common throughout Middle Egypt, including the Fayum; see Tudor, Christian Funerary Stelae, 2011, pp. 178–81; Dijkstra and Van der Vliet, CdE 87 (2012), p. 193, in the reprint, p. 188, and above no. 3.

3. The same erroneous spelling ⲙⲡⲁⲕⲁⲣⲓⲟⲥ is found in the stela of a man George, from Antinoopolis (SB Kopt. II, 1069; Munier, Aegyptus 29 [1949], p. 129, no. 1, l. 4).

4. ⲉⲕⲱⲧ: “builder, architect” (οἰκοδόμος), rather than the much rarer homonymous word for “potter”.

6-7. This emphatic way of introducing the indiction year, with a double demonstrative pronoun, prefixed and appositive, “this very year”, and a Greek numeral, is characteristic of Middle Egypt; see Dijkstra and Van der Vliet, CdE 87 (2012), p. 193 (in the reprint: p. 189), with n. 5.

7. In the numeral, the scribe or mason omitted the unit. Stern prints it as ⲧⲁⲓⲕⲉⲧⲉⲕⲁⲧⲉⲥ, translating “twelfth”, but this can hardly be a spelling of δωδέκατος (for Coptic spellings of which, see Förster, Wörterbuch, 2002, p. 212). In fact, the element ⲧⲁⲓ̈ is the appositive demonstrative pronoun following ⲧⲓ̈ⲣⲟⲙⲡⲉ (see above ad ll. 6-7). Revillout translates “dixième”, leaving the element ⲕⲉ– = και– unaccounted for, as do later editors. Given the form of the numeral, a thirteenth, fourteenth or fifteenth indiction year may have been intended. A fifteenth (ⲡⲉⲛⲧⲉⲕⲉⲧⲉⲕⲁⲧⲉⲥ) year seems the most likely option; the scribe probably confused the syllables ⲧⲁⲓ̈ and ⲧⲉ and skipped the syllable ⲡⲉⲛ– (saut du même au même). The spelling ⲛⲧⲉⲕⲧⲓⲁⲛⲟⲥ is again found in the stela of George from Antinoopolis (SB Kopt. II, 1069; Munier, Aegyptus 29 [1949], p. 129, no. 1, ll. 8–9). 16

8. ϣⲗⲏⲣ for ϣⲗⲏⲗ is a rare writing, even though the ⲗ / ⲣ swap is quite common (similarly in ll. 10–11: ⲧⲁⲣⲉⲡⲟⲣⲟⲥ for ταλαίπωρος); see Kahle, Bala’izah, 1954, pp. 98–99; Crum, in Winlock and Crum, Monastery of Epiphanius I, 1926, p. 243, associates it in particular with the region of Ashmunayn (Hermopolis).

9. Although Crum, Coptic Dictionary, 1939, p. 369b, cites (Fayumic) examples of ⲥⲟⲟⲩⲛ without the final (cf. also Kahle, Bala’izah, 1954, p. 111; Kasser, Compléments, 1964, p. 58), here ⲉⲧⲥⲟⲟⲩ represents most likely a simple omission of the scribe or mason, under the influence of the following cluster ⲙⲙ.

9-10. The use of the form ⲧⲉ for ⲛⲧⲉ of the conjunctive, in the phrase ⲧⲉ ⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲉⲓ̈ⲣ ⲟⲩⲛⲁ confirms, broadly speaking, a Middle Egyptian provenance; cf. Kahle, Bala’izah, 1954, pp. 160–62.

Its textual format, but also its material (marble) and various details of script and orthography link the stela of the mason Epimache (Epimachos) firmly to Middle Egypt, in particular the area of Antinoopolis and Hermopolis. The text follows a tripartite format, comprising an introductory prayer for God’s mercy (ll. 1-4), a death lemma including an indiction year in Greek (ll. 4-7), and a final section (ll. 8-11) where the deceased addresses the living, asking for their prayer (appel aux vivants).44 The opening invocation, “God of the Lords, the Holy Apostles”, shows that the Apostles must have been locally important as patrons.45 Its form recalls the nomenclature of the oratory “of the Lords, the Apostles”, ⲉⲛⲛϫⲓⲥⲟⲟⲩ ⲉⲛⲁⲡⲟⲥⲧⲟⲗ[ⲟ]ⲥ, at Hermopolis, as found in a seventh-century receipt issued by its legal representatives.46

The appel aux vivants of ll. 8-11 has a close parallel in the Coptic Totenklage-stela (funerary lament) of a young girl Eulogia, dated to AD 759, presumably from Antinoopolis, but now in Leiden: ϣⲗ̅ⲗ ⲉϫⲱⲓ ⲛⲉⲧⲥⲟⲟⲩ(ⲛ) ⲙⲙⲟⲓ ⲧⲉ ⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲁⲛⲁⲡⲉⲩⲉ ⲛⲧⲁⲯⲩⲭⲏ, “Pray for me, you who knew me, that God may grant rest to my soul”.47 Another Totenklage-stela, for a girl Mary, shows a pessimistic inversion of the same idea: ⲁ ⲛⲉⲧⲥⲟⲟⲩⲛ ⲙⲙⲟⲓ ⲧⲏⲣⲟⲩ ⲉⲣ ⲡⲁⲱⲃ︤ϣ, “All who knew me have forgotten me”.48 The Leiden epitaph of Eulogia is also paleographically close to the present stela, which suggests a date in or around the eighth century.

5. Collective epitaph for a group of four monks

  • Cat. 7132.
  • Acquired before 1888 (date of the Fabretti catalogue); possibly from the Drovetti collection.
  • Middle Egypt, prob. Hermopolite nome, ca. 6th-7th cent.
  • An originally almost square slab of beige limestone, 42.5 × 42 × 8 cm. The stone shows the remains of sixteen lines of text in Sahidic Coptic, inscribed in11 round late-antique majuscules, regular and well-shaped. Tiny differences, for instance in the shape of the hori, might indicate that various different masons have been at work, but may as well be due to the lapse of time between the addition of the entries, each separated by several months, probably of the same (unknown) year. The text takes up practically the entire surface of the stone, but for very narrow margins, and shows careful ruling throughout. The stela is undecorated otherwise. The stone lacks the upper right-hand part and the lower left corner and has suffered considerable surface damage. A deep hole in the lower right shows that it was reused as a socket for a door hinge.
  • Bibliography: unpublished. Cf. Fabretti, Catalogo generale, 1888, p. 311, no. 7132 (brief description); Van der Vliet, GM (forthcoming; discussion of the toponym in ll. 9-10 and 13-14).

Collective epitaph for a group of four monks. Turin, Museo Egizio, Cat. 7132. Photo by Nicola Dell’Aquila and Federico Taverni/Museo Egizio.

  • ⲁⲡⲁ ⲃⲓⲕⲧⲱ[ⲣ . . . . . . . ]
  • ⲁϥⲙⲧⲟⲛ ⲙⲙ[ⲟϥ ⲛⲥⲟⲩ . . ]
  • 3. ⲛⲑⲟⲟⲩⲧ ϩⲛ ⲟ[ⲩⲉⲓⲣⲏⲛⲏ]
  • ⲡⲉⲛⲥⲟⲛ ⲡⲡⲁⲡⲁ[ⲥ . . . . ]
  • ⲡϣⲉⲛ ⲁⲡⲁ ϩⲏⲗⲓⲁ̣[ⲥ ⲁϥⲙ-]
  • 6. ⲧⲟⲛ ⲙⲙⲟϥ ⲛⲥⲟⲩ [ . . ⲛⲭⲟⲓ-]
  • ⲁⲕ ϩⲛ ⲟⲩⲉⲓⲣⲏⲛⲏ ϩⲁ̣[ⲙⲏⲛ]
  • ⲡⲉⲛⲥ̣ⲟⲛ ⲫⲟ̣ⲓⲃⲁⲙ̣[ⲙⲱ-]
  • 9. ⲛ ⲡⲣⲙ̣ ⲡⲁ̣ⲙⲟⲩⲛⲉ ⲡ[ⲥⲟⲃ-]
  • ⲧ ⸳ ⲁϥⲙ̣ⲧⲟⲛ ⲙⲙⲟϥ ⲛⲥ[ⲟⲩ]
  • : ⲙⲡⲁ̣ⲣ̣ⲙϩⲟⲧⲡ ϩⲛ ⲟⲩⲉⲓ[ⲣ-]
  • 12. ⲏⲛⲏ [ϩⲁ]ⲙⲏⲛ ⲡⲉⲛⲥⲟⲛ ⲓⲱ-
  • [ϩ]ⲁⲛⲛⲏⲥ ⲃⲉⲧⲓⲣ : ⲡⲣⲙ ⲡ-
  • [ⲁ]ⲙⲟⲩⲛⲉ ⲡⲥⲟⲃⲧ ⲁϥⲙ-
  • 15. [ⲧⲟ]ⲛ ⲙⲙⲟϥ ⸳ ⲍ ⸳ ⲙ̣[ⲡ]ⲁⲱⲛⲉ
  • vac. ϩⲁⲙⲏⲛ vac.

Apa Victor [ . . . ] went to rest on the xth of Thoout, in peace. Our brother, the papas [N. N.], the son of Apa Elijah, went to rest on the xth of Choiak, in peace. Amen. Our brother Phoibammon, from Pamoune Psobt, went to rest on the 2nd of Paremhotp, in peace. Amen. Our brother John, (son of) Betir, from Pamoune Psobt, went to rest the 7th of Paone. Amen.

The epitaph records the dates of decease of four monks, three of whom are formally called “brother”, to wit Apa Victor (ll.1-3), a priest (πάπας) whose name is lost (ll. 4-7), Phoibammon (ll. 8-12) and John (ll. 12-15). Presumably in order to distinguish them from namesakes within their community, all are identified by patronymics and / or places of origin (lost in the case of Victor, in l. 1). The surviving names of the persons mentioned are commonplace. Only the name Betir (l. 13) is rare, but undoubtedly the same as the known name Betil.49

Two of the monks, Phoibammon and John, hail from the same village, Pamoune Psobt (ll. 9-10, 13-14). Egyptian place names composed with the word sbt / ⲥⲟⲃⲧ, “wall, enclosure”, which survives in modern toponyms as the element Safṭ, are ubiquitous.50 The present one, Pamoune Psobt, is the Greek Ψῶβθον Ἀμούνεως, a hamlet (ἐποίκιον) in the toparchy of Leukopyrgites Kato, in the Hermopolite nome, known from a small number of Greek administrative documents of second to fourth century date.51 Its Coptic name was not previously attested. Both versions of the name may be translated as “(The Settlement) of Amoune at the Wall”.52 The precise location and modern name of the village are unknown.

The paleography and the entire format of the monument are characteristic of late antique monastic sites in Middle Egypt. Various quite similar epitaphs12 likewise contain Hermopolite toponyms. Among these is a small group of Coptic stelae that has been traced to Zawyat al-Mayatin, south of Minya.53 As the Turin stela twice mentions an obscure village or hamlet in the Hermopolite nome, it stands to reason that it originates from a monastery in the same general region, between the modern cities of Minya and Mallawi.

6. Fragment of an epitaph

  • Suppl. 2201.
  • Ashmunayn (Hermopolis), Schiaparelli excavations, 1904. Ca. 7th-9th cent.
  • Fragment, 9.5 × 10 × 3 cm, of a slab of reddish marble, inscribed with the remains of five lines of Coptic text, incised in shallow but clearly drawn uncials. Both broken-bar symmetric and left-looking alphas are used (l. 1). No margins survive.
  • Bibliography: unpublished.

Fragment of an epitaph. Turin, Museo Egizio, Suppl. 2201. Photo by Nicola Dell’Aquila and Federico Taverni/Museo Egizio.

  • [ – – – ⲙ]ⲁⲕⲁⲣⲓ̣[ⲟⲥ – – – ]
  • [ – – – ]ⲕⲟⲡⲟⲥ [ – – – ]
  • 3. [ – – – ⲙⲡⲉⲓϩ]ⲟⲟⲩ ⲡⲁ̣[ⲓ – – – ]
  • [ – – – ⲛⲧⲉⲓⲣⲟ]ⲙⲡⲉ ⲧ[ⲁⲓ – – – ]/
  • [ – – – ] . . [ – – – ]

2. perhaps ⲁⲣⲧⲟ]ⲕⲟⲡⲟⲥ or ⲁⲣⲅⲩⲣⲟ]ⲕⲟⲡⲟⲥ

[ – – – ] blessed [ – – – ] . . . [ – – – ] on this very day [ – – – ] of this very year [ – – – ]

Part of the name-date lemma of the funerary inscription of an apparently male person. Line 2 mentioned the profession of the deceased, whose name must have followed the epithet ⲙⲁⲕⲁⲣⲓⲟⲥ (in l. 1). He was perhaps a baker (ἀρτοκόπος) or a silversmith (ἀργυροκόπος), less likely a bishop (ἐπίσκοπος), since funerary stelae of bishops, differently than in Nubia, are extremely rare in Egypt. Lines 3 and 4 contained the month date and the indiction year of his death, recorded in a way that was very common in Middle Egypt (cf. above no. 4, ad ll. 6-7). The style of the script and the material are typical of the Hermopolite-Antinoopolite region.13

7. Fragment of an epitaph (?)

  • Suppl. 2202.
  • Ashmunayn (Hermopolis), Schiaparelli excavations, 1904. Ca. 7th-9th cent.
  • Fragment, 7.2 x 8.5 x 2.5 cm, of the lower margin of a limestone slab, inscribed with the remains of two lines of Coptic text, incised in clear and well-drawn upright uncials.
  • Bibliography: unpublished.

Fragment of an epitaph (?). Turin, Museo Egizio, Suppl. 2202. Photo by Nicola Dell’Aquila and Federico Taverni/Museo Egizio.

  • [ – – – ] . ⲡⲉ ⲭⲟ[ⲓⲁⲕ – – -]
  • [ – – – ] . ⲁⲡⲟ ⲇ[ⲓⲟⲕⲗⲏⲧⲓⲁⲛⲟⲩ – – – ]

[ – – – ] is Choiak [ – – – ] since Diocletian [ – – – ]

The fragment preserves part of the two final lines of an inscription, most likely of a funerary nature, comprising the dating lemma with the day and year of decease. As in the previous item, the style of writing is typical of the Hermopolite-Antinoopolite region.

8. Cross-shaped funerary monument of a man, Noute

  • Provv. 4871. The piece bears the Arabic number 1025 in black ink.
  • Uncertain acquisition.
  • Middle Egypt (?), ca. 6th-8th cent.
  • Limestone funerary cross, 50.5 x 40 x 6 cm, badly broken. Its upper part was originally inscribed in a semi-circle, the right-hand half of which is now missing. The body of the cross itself is complete, but broken into many pieces, some quite small. The four beams of the cross, but not the semi-circle, are inscribed with twenty-one brief lines of Sahidic Coptic. Ll. 1-11 are on the upper beam of the cross, ll. 12-14 on the transverse bar, the remaining lines on the lower beam. Line 21 consists merely of a Latin cross overwritten with a chi. The script is a rather inelegant, lightly incised uncial, badly ruled.
  • Bibliography: unpublished.

Cross-shaped funerary monument of a man, Noute. Turin, Museo Egizio, Provv. 4871. Photo by Nicola Dell’Aquila and Federico Taverni/Museo Egizio.

  • ϩⲙ̣̄ ⲡ[ⲣⲁ-]
  • ⲛ ⲙ̄ⲡ̣[ⲉⲓ-]
  • 3. ⲱⲧ ⲙⲛ̣
  • ⲡϣⲏⲣ[ⲉ]
  • ⲙⲛ̄ ⲡⲉⲡ[ⲛ(ⲉⲩⲙ)-]
  • 6. ⲁ ⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁ̣-
  • ⲁⲃ ⲁϥ[ⲙ-]
  • ⲧⲟⲛ [ⲙ-]
  • 9. ⲙⲟϥ ⲛ̄-
  • ϭⲓ ⲡ[ⲙ]ⲁ-
  • ⲕⲁⲣⲓ̣ⲟⲥ
  • 12. ⲛ̣ⲟⲩⲧⲉ ϩⲛ ⲥⲟⲩ ϣⲟⲙⲛ̅ⲧ ⲛ̄ⲧⲱ̣-
  • ⲃⲉ ⲛ̄ⲧⲣⲟⲙⲡ̣[ⲉ] ⲙ̄ⲡⲉⲙⲡⲧⲏⲥ
  • ϩⲛ̄ ⲓⲟⲩⲣⲏⲛⲏ̣ ⲛ̄ⲧⲉ ⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ
  • 15. ϩⲁⲙ-
  • ⲏⲛ ⲓ(ⲏⲥⲟⲩ)ⲥ
  • ⲭ(ⲣⲓⲥⲧⲟ)ⲥ ϥⲟ̣-
  • 18. ⲑ<ⲉ> ⲉⲣ-
  • ⲟⲓ̈ ⲛ̄ⲁ-
  • ⲅⲁⲡⲏ
  • 21. ϯ

13. ⲙ̄ⲡⲉⲙⲡⲧⲏⲥ: πέμπτης (ἰνδικτίονος) || 14. ⲓⲟⲩⲣⲏⲛⲏ: l. ⲟⲩⲓⲣⲏⲛⲏ || 17-18. ϥⲟ̣|ⲑ<ⲉ>: βοηθέω.14

+ In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. The blessed Noute went to rest on the third of Tybi of the fifth (indiction) year, in God’s peace. Amen. Jesus-Christ, help me charitably! +

1. The pi is still visible on one of the smaller fragments.

5. The epsilon looks like a sigma.

12. The name Noute is rarely attested (see Hasitzka, Namen, 2007, s.v.), but there is definitely no space for ⲡⲁⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ, ϣⲉⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ or a similar more popular name.

13. In the notation of the indiction year, the scribe uses a Greek numeral (in the genitive). This may be indicative of a Middle Egyptian provenance (see above no. 4, ad ll. 6-7).

17-18. The stone’s ϥⲟ̣|ⲑ, to be read as ϥⲟⲑ<ⲉ> (by haplography, for βοηθέω), seems rare. Förster, Wörterbuch, 2002, p. 139, notes only one example of the spelling ϥⲟⲑⲉ, from Saqqara. The structure of the sentence, with a following ⲉⲣⲟⲓ̈, precludes an interpretation as the cryptogram ϥ̄ⲑ̅, for Amen.

In spite of its present fragile condition, this piece – like our no. 3 – must have been a freestanding monument that once crowned the superstructure of a tomb. It is inscribed with a full-fledged though brief epitaph. It opens with a widespread opening formula invoking the Holy Trinity (ll. 1-7), followed by a statement of death containing the name of the deceased and the date of his demise (ll. 7-16). The text concludes with a brief prayer for the deceased, who himself speaks through the epitaph in the first person, addressing not the reader, as is more usual (compare the appel aux vivants in no. 4), but Christ directly (ll. 16-20). Its appeal to divine succor (βοήθεια) is widespread in all kinds of inscriptions, including epitaphs, and has a strong apotropaic value.54

Sepulchral crosses were particularly popular in the Fayum (see our no. 3, above), but the present piece is typologically and textually quite different from the Fayum crosses. The material, a rather bright limestone, the form of the indiction date in l. 13, and the first-person prayer of ll. 16-20 would seem to indicate a provenance in Middle Egypt, but it is difficult to be more assertive or precise.15

9. Epitaph of a woman [ . ]aqo

  • Cat. 7130. Obsolete signatures mentioned in previous publications are B.A. 6631 (Seyffarth) and 1126 (Revillout 1885).
  • Acquired before 1850 (date of the editio princeps); probably from the Drovetti collection.
  • Abydos, 13 March 946
  • A not entirely rectangular slab of light-brown smoothly dressed marble, 25 × 16 × 2.5 cm. The left-hand margin is largely broken away in an irregular way. The slightly irregular shape of the slab suggests a secondary reuse. The slab is inscribed with fifteen lines of text in Sahidic Coptic and Greek, written in clear, well-shaped uncials. The text is nearly complete and quite legible, apart from the missing beginnings of ll. 1-11. Our reconstruction suggests that the left margin may not have followed an entirely straight line.
  • Bibliography: Seyffarth, ZDMG 4 (1850), p. 256, no. VI (editio princeps); Revillout, Mélanges d’archéologie égyptienne et assyrienne 2 (1874), pp. 196–97, no. 5 (new edition); Revillout, Revue égyptologique 4 (1885), p. 26, no. 35 (slightly revised re-edition); Revillout, Revue égyptologique 14 (1912), pp. 27–28 (slightly revised re-edition); SB Kopt. I, 486 (after Revillout’s 1885 text); Van der Vliet, JCoptS 22 (2020), pp. 216–17 (new edition). Cf. Fabretti, Catalogo generale, 1888, p. 311, no. 7130 (brief description); de Ricci, Revue archéologique, sér. 3, 41 (1902), p. 146 (quotes the dates of ll. 13-15, from the papers of E. le Blant); Curto and Roccati, in Sauneron (ed.), Textes et langages, 1974, p. 149 (mentioned, citing Revillout’s 1874 edition); Bagnall and Worp, Chronological Systems, 2004, p. 79 (quote the dates of ll. 13-15, with a false attribution to Esna).

Epitaph of a woman [ . ]aqo. Turin, Museo Egizio, Cat. 7130. Photo by Nicola Dell’Aquila and Federico Taverni/Museo Egizio.

  • [☩ Ἡ Ἁγία] Τριάς. vac.
  • [ⲉϥⲕⲏ ⲉϩ]ⲣⲁⲓ ⲙⲡⲉⲓⲙⲁ
  • 3. [ⲛϭⲓ ⲡⲉⲥ]ⲕ̣ⲩⲛⲱⲙⲁ ⲛⲧⲙⲁ-
  • [ⲕⲁⲣⲓⲁ . ]ⲁϭⲱ ⲧϣⲉⲉⲣⲉ
  • [ⲙⲡⲙ]ⲁⲕⲁⲣⲓⲟⲥ ⲥⲉⲩⲏⲣⲟⲥ
  • 6. [ⲛⲧ]ⲁ̣ⲥⲙⲧⲟⲛ ⲇⲉ ⲙⲙⲟⲥ
  • [ⲛⲥ]ⲟⲩ ⲓ̅ⲍ̅ ⲙⲡⲉⲃⲟⲧ vac.
  • [ⲫ]ⲁⲙⲉⲛⲱ̅ⲑ ⲟ ⲡϭ(ⲟⲓ)ⲥ
  • 9. [ⲛ]ⲧⲉ ⲡϫⲟⲉⲓⲥ ⲁⲁⲥ
  • [ⲛ]ⲙⲡϣⲁ ⲛϫⲓ ⲕⲗⲏ-
  • [ⲣⲟ]ⲛⲟⲙⲓⲁ ⲙⲛ ⲛⲉⲧ-
  • 12. ⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ ⲧⲏⲣⲟⲩ ⲁⲙⲏⲛ
  • ⲉϥⲉϣⲱⲡⲉ ⲁⲡⲟ
  • ⲇⲓⲟⲕⲗⲏ(ⲧⲓⲁⲛⲟⲩ) ⲭ̅ⲝ̅ⲃ̅ vac.
  • 15. vac. ⲥⲁⲣⲁⲅⲉⲛⲟⲥ ⲧ̅ⲗ̅ⲇ̅

8. ⲟ ⲡϭ(ⲟⲓ)ⲥ: ⲟ ⲡⲟ̅ⲥ̅ stone || 13-14. ⲁⲡⲟ | ⲇⲓⲟⲕⲗⲏ(ⲧⲓⲁⲛⲟⲩ): ἀπὸ Διοκλητιανοῦ || 15. ⲥⲁⲣⲁⲅⲉⲛⲟⲥ: ἀπὸ Σαρακηνῶν

2. ⲉϩ]ⲣⲁⲓ: . . ]ⲑⲁⲓ Seyffarth || 3. [ⲛϭⲓ ⲡⲉⲥ]ⲕ̣ⲩⲛⲱⲙⲁ: . . . ⲛⲥⲱⲙⲁ Seyffarth, . . . ⲩⲛⲱⲙⲁ Revillout 1874, (ⲛⲉⲥⲕ)ⲩⲛⲱⲙⲁ Revillout 1885, (ⲛⲛⲉⲥⲕ)ⲩⲛⲱⲙⲁ Revillout 1912, [ⲡⲉⲥⲕ]ⲩⲛⲱⲙⲁ SB Kopt. | ⲛⲧⲙⲁ-: ⲙⲧⲙⲁ- Seyffarth || 5. [ⲙⲡⲙ]ⲁⲕⲁⲣⲓⲟⲥ: (ⲙⲡ)ⲙⲁⲕⲁⲣⲓⲟⲥ Revillout 1874, 1885, 1912, SB Kopt. | ⲥⲉⲩⲏⲣⲟⲥ: ⲥⲉⲩⲉⲣⲟⲥ Seyffarth || 6. ⲇⲉ: ϫⲉ Seyffarth, – Revillout 1912 || 8. ⲟ ⲡϭ(ⲟⲓ)ⲥ: . . . Revillout 1874, 1885, SB Kopt., . . . (ϣⲗⲏⲗ) Revillout 1912 || 9. [ⲛ]ⲧⲉ: ⲧⲉ Revillout 1874, 1885, SB Kopt. | ⲡϫⲟⲉⲓⲥ: ⲡϫⲟⲉⲕ Seyffarth, ⲡϫⲟⲉⲓⲉ Revillout 1912 | ⲁⲁⲥ: . . . Revillout16 1874, 1885, SB Kopt., (ⲁⲁⲥ ⲛ) Revillout 1912 || 10. [ⲛ]ⲙⲡϣⲁ: ⲙ̄ⲡϣⲁ Revillout 1874, 1885, SB Kopt., ⲙⲛϣⲁ Revillout 1912 || 10-11. ⲕⲗⲏ|[ⲣⲟ]: (ⲕⲗⲏⲣⲟ) Revillout 1874, 1885, 1912, SB Kopt. || 11. ⲛⲉⲧ-: ⲛ(ⲉⲧ) Revillout 1874, 1885, 1912, SB Kopt. || 13. ⲁⲡⲟ: ⲁⲛⲟ Revillout 1912 || 14. ⲭ̅ⲝ̅ⲃ̅: ⲗⲝⲃ Seyffarth || 15. ⲥⲁⲣⲁⲅⲉⲛⲟⲥ: ⲥⲁⲣⲁⲅⲉⲛⲇ Seyffarth, ⲥⲁⲣⲁⲅⲁⲛⲟⲥ Revillout 1874, 1885, 1912, SB Kopt.

+ O Holy Trinity! Here lie the mortal remains of the blessed [ . ]aqo, the daughter of the blessed Severus. She went to rest on the 17th of the month Phamenoth. O Lord! – that the Lord may make her worthy to take up inheritance together with all the saints. Amen, so be it! + (Year) since Diocletian, 662; (since) the Saracens, 334.

This and the next item belong to a small group of textually very similar stelae that on the basis of both internal and external criteria can be attributed to Abydos or its close vicinity (Balyana). For a discussion of the entire group and a textual and historical commentary, see the most recent re-edition, where the anacoluthon of ll. 8-9 is also discussed.

10. Epitaph of a woman Maleu

  • Cat. 7131.
  • Acquired before 1888 (date of the Fabretti catalogue); probably from the Drovetti collection, like the previous item.
  • Abydos, 26 December 949.
  • A more or less trapezoidal slab of light-brown limestone, 34 × 29 × 5 cm. Despite its slightly irregular shape, which suggests a secondary reuse, the slab seems nearly complete, except for the missing upper left-hand corner and considerable surface damage, particularly in the lower part of the stone. The slab is inscribed with eighteen lines of text in Sahidic Coptic and Greek, written in clear, well shaped uncials, where tends to resemble ϫ, e.g. in l. 2. Some odd spellings can be observed in ll. 4-5 and 10. The scribe consistently writes the group ⲕⲉ as , with the abbreviation for καί, “and”, and has a certain preference for /a/ vocalization (ll. 9, 12, twice, and 14, all noted in the apparatus); he apparently does not write double vowels and double consonants. The text is nearly complete and mostly legible, in spite of the battered surface of ll. 9-15.
  • Bibliography: Van der Vliet, JCoptStud 22 (2020), pp. 218–19 (editio princeps). Cf. Fabretti, Catalogo generale, 1888, p. 311, no. 7131 (brief description).

Epitaph of a woman Maleu. Turin, Museo Egizio, Cat. 7131. Photo by Nicola Dell’Aquila and Federico Taverni/Museo Egizio.

  • [☩ Ἡ Ἁ]γία Τριάς, ἐ-
  • [λέ]υσων ὑμᾶς. ⲉϥ-
  • 3. ⲕⲏ ⲉϩⲣⲁⲓ ⲙⲡⲓⲙ-
  • ⲁ ⲛϭⲓ ⲡⲉⲥⲕ(ⲁⲓ)ⲛ{ⲏ}ⲱ-
  • ⲙⲁ ⲛⲧⲁ ⲡⲓⲉⲣⲡⲙ-
  • 6. ⲉⲩⲉ ⲉⲧⲛⲁⲛⲟⲩϥ ⲧⲙⲁ-
  • ⲕⲁⲣⲓⲁ ⲙⲁⲗ̣ⲏⲩ ⲧϣⲏ-
  • ⲣⲉ ⲙⲡⲙ`ⲁ´ⲕⲁⲣⲓⲟⲥ ⲙⲏⲛⲁ
  • 9. ⲡⲉⲡⲣⲏⲥⲃⲉⲧⲉⲣⲟⲥ ⲙⲡ[ⲓⲧ]ⲁ̣ϣ
  • ⲛⲧⲁⲥⲙⲧⲟⲛ ⲧⲉ ⲙⲟⲥ ⲛⲁⲗ-
  • ⲕ(ⲁⲓ) ⲛⲭⲓⲁϩⲕ vac. ϫⲉⲕⲁⲥ ⲉⲣⲉ ⲡϭ(ⲟⲓ)ⲥ
  • 12. ⲛⲁϫⲥ ⲁⲕⲟⲩⲛϥ ⲛⲁⲃ̣ⲣ̣ⲁϩⲁⲙ
  • ⲙⲛ ⲓⲥⲁⲕ ⲙⲛ ⲓ̣ⲁ̣ⲕⲟⲃ ϩⲛ ⲧⲡⲁ-
  • ⲣⲁⲇ̣ⲉ̣ⲓ̣ⲥⲟⲥ ⲙⲡⲟⲩⲛⲁϥ ⲛⲥϫⲓ
  • 15. ⲕⲗⲏ̣ⲣ̣ⲟ[ⲛⲟ]ⲙⲓⲁ ⲙⲛ <ⲛ>ⲉ̣ⲧⲟⲩⲁⲃ
  • ⲧⲏⲣⲟⲩ ϩⲁⲙⲏⲛ ⲉϥⲉϣⲟⲡⲉ ⲁⲡⲟ
  • ⲥⲁⲣⲁⲕ(ⲁⲓ)ⲛⲟⲥ ⲧⲗⲏ ⲁⲡⲟ ⲇⲓⲟⲕ-
  • 18.ⲗⲏ(ⲧⲓⲁⲛⲟⲩ) ⲭⲝⲋ vac. 17

1-2. ἐ|[λέ]υσων ὑμᾶς: ἐλέησον ἡμᾶς || 4-5. ⲡⲉⲥⲕ(ⲁⲓ)ⲛ{ⲏ}ⲱ|ⲙⲁ: ⲡⲉⲥⳤⲛⲏⲱ|ⲙⲁ stone, σκήνωμα || 7. ⲙⲁⲗ̣ⲏⲩ: perhaps read ⲙⲁϣ̣ⲏⲩ || 9. ⲡⲉⲡⲣⲏⲥⲃⲉⲧⲉⲣⲟⲥ: πρεσβύτερος | [ⲧ]ⲁ̣ϣ: ⲧⲟϣ || 10. ⲧⲉ: δέ | ⲙⲟⲥ: ⲙⲙⲟⲥ || 10-11. ⲛⲁⲗ|ⲕ(ⲁⲓ): ⲛⲁⲗ|ⳤ stone, ⲛⲁⲗⲕⲉ || 11. ⲡϭ(ⲟⲓ)ⲥ: ⲡⲟ̅ⲥ̅ stone || 12. ⲛⲁϫⲥ ⲁⲕⲟⲩⲛϥ: ⲛⲟϫⲥ ⲉⲕⲟⲩⲛϥ || 13. ⲓ̣ⲁ̣ⲕⲟⲃ: ⲓⲁⲕⲱⲃ || 14. ⲙⲡⲟⲩⲛⲁϥ: ⲙⲡⲟⲩⲛⲟϥ || 16. ⲉϥⲉϣⲟⲡⲉ: ⲉϥⲉϣⲱⲡⲉ || 17. ⲥⲁⲣⲁⲕ(ⲁⲓ)ⲛⲟⲥ: ⲥⲁⲣⲁⳤⲛⲟⲥ stone, Σαρακηνῶν.

+ O Holy Trinity, have mercy upon us! Here lie the mortal remains of the blessed Maleu, of sweet memory, the daughter of the blessed Menas, priest of this diocese. She went to rest on the last day of Choiak. May the Lord make her recline in the bosom of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, in the paradise of delight, so that she will take up inheritance with all the saints. Amen, so be it. (Year) since the Saracens, 338; since Diocletian, 666.

This epitaph is a companion piece to the previous item, which presents a very similar text, even though they were probably produced by different scribes and masons. For a discussion of its provenance and context and a detailed commentary, see the editio princeps.

11. Funerary monument of a woman, Tse

  • Suppl. 133855 (second text).
  • Acquired in commerce in Egypt by Ernesto Schiaparelli in 1900-1901.
  • Southern Upper Egypt, ca. 6th-8th cent.
  • Almost square limestone stela, 30 × 24 × 5.5 cm, for which an earlier inscription in Greek (here no. 12, the original obverse) has been reused. The monument is executed in the form of an aedicula, sculptured in shallow relief and consisting of two decorated columns with floral capitals that support a plinth with a conch motif surmounted by acroteria. Inside the aedicula, the space is filled with six brief lines of Greek and Coptic text in crudely incised square majuscules. The stone is complete, apart from some marginal damage.
  • Bibliography: unpublished.

Funerary monument of a woman, Tse. Turin, Museo Egizio, Suppl. 1338 (second text). Photo by Nicola Dell’Aquila and Federico Taverni/Museo Egizio.

  • + Εἷ-
  • ς θ-
  • 3. εός.
  • ⲧⲥⲏ
  • ⲙⲏⲛⲉ-
  • 6. ϣⲏ +

+ One God! Tse, (daughter of) Meneshe. +

Stelae with an aedicula decoration and a text consisting of the εἷς θεός acclamation and the name of the deceased only are characteristic of the southern parts of Upper Egypt and common, for instance, at Esna (Latopolis).56 Another example, with the same textual format, is provided by our no. 13, which is presumably from Hermonthis (Armant). Stylistically, however, the present monument is rather different from the stelae typically attributed to Esna or Hermonthis (well illustrated by nos. 13-15 below).18

The name of the (female) owner, Tse, may be a variant of Tsa, “Beauty”.57 Meneshe is assumed here to be her father’s name, yet it seems to be unattested elsewhere. Alternatively, the entire group of ll. 4-6, could be read as a single name of the popular type beginning with the group ⲧⲥⲉ-, etymologically “daughter of”, so ⲧⲥⲏⲙⲏⲛⲉϣⲏ, Tsemeneshe.58

12. Fragmentary commemorative inscription

  • Suppl. 133859 (first text).
  • Acquired in commerce in Egypt by Ernesto Schiaparelli in 1900-1901.
  • Prob. southern Upper Egypt, ca. 2nd-4rd cent.
  • An almost square limestone slab, 30 × 24 × 5.5 cm, sawn up to be reused for the funerary stela of Tse, here no. 11 (on the reverse). The surviving, undecorated block represents the right-hand margin of the original stone. Judging from the fairly broad upper and lower margins, the present height may have been the original. The stone preserves the ends of six lines of a Greek text that must have been considerably longer originally. The mason wrote rather regular, upright incised majuscules that may date from about the second to fourth centuries. Traces of reddish color are still visible inside the letters. In the middle of the block, a deep vertical groove and a square hole were carved, apparently in ancient times, in order to attach the stela of the reverse.
  • Bibliography: unpublished.

Fragmentary commemorative inscription. Turin, Museo Egizio, Suppl. 1338 (first text). Photo by Nicola Dell’Aquila and Federico Taverni/Museo Egizio.

  • [ – – – – – – – – ]σκος Π̣ολι-
  • [ – – – – – – – – ]ος ἀν̣έστη-
  • 3.[σε / σαν – – – ] . τόδε τεῖ-
  • [χος – – – – – – ]υ̣πατ[ . ]ησκη
  • [ – – – – – – – – ]νος εὖ̣ μάλα
  • 6.[ – – – – – – – με]τ̣αδι̣δ̣οῦς.

4. ]υ̣πατ[ . ]ησκη: perhaps Κλε]υπατ[ρ]η σκη- (Łajtar)? or ε]ὔπατ[ρ]ης (for –ις) κη-??

[ – – – ]skos Poli[ – – – ]os erected [ – – – ] this wall [ – – – ] . . . [ – – – ] . . . very well [ – – – ] having transferred [ – – -].

Not enough of the text survives to allow a confident reconstruction. The inevitably somewhat hypothetical interpretation proposed here owes a great deal to the expertise of my colleague Adam Łajtar, University of Warsaw. The inscription may be commemorating the erection or restoration of a building or part of building (cf. ll. 2-3) by a benefactor or benefactors whose names and functions were probably detailed in ll. 1-2. There is nothing in the preserved parts of the inscription to connect it with a Christian milieu.

13. Funerary monument of a man, Ketatios

  • Suppl. 1337.
  • Acquired in commerce in Egypt by Ernesto Schiaparelli in 1900-1901.
  • Hermonthis, ca. 6th-8th cent.
  • A sandstone stela, 31 × 24 × 6.5 cm, with sculptured decoration, the lower part of which consists of a19 Maltese cross within a laurel wreath in raised relief, contained within a square recessed field, with scrolls filling each corner. The uppermost part of the stela consists of a triangular tympanum with a stylized floral motif (now largely lost). In between the cross and the tympanum the epigraphic field is inserted. It contains, above and to the right of a centrally placed croix fourchée, a Greek inscription in two lines of clear and regular, but inelegant uncials. The base of the stela and most of its top are missing.
  • Bibliography: I. Lefebvre 113 (editio princeps). Cf. Peterson, ΕΙΣ ΘΕΟΣ, 1926, p. 48, no. 5 (text after Lefebvre); Preisigke, Namenbuch, 1922, col. 172 (proper name quoted after Lefebvre, but cf. col. 420).

Funerary monument of a man, Ketatios. Turin, Museo Egizio, Suppl. 1337. Photo by Nicola Dell’Aquila and Federico Taverni/Museo Egizio.

  • Εἷς θεός. Κετά-
  • vac. + τιος.

One God! Ketatios. +

According to its first editor, Gustave Lefebvre, the stela was acquired by Schiaparelli in the Fayum, together with our no. 2. Lefebvre (followed by Peterson) therefore attributed the stela to the Fayum, although with a question mark. This provenance is not confirmed by the museum documentation and is certainly incorrect.60 Its material (sandstone), decoration and text firmly link this piece to the area of Hermonthis (Armant), south-west of ancient Thebes.61 A much similar stela of the Hermonthis type is our no. 14, below. For the textual format, the εἷς θεός acclamation followed merely by a name, compare our no. 11 above.

The name of the deceased, Ketatios, is uncommon, but the readings are indubitable. At some point, Lefebvre seems to have envisaged the possibility of splitting it up as κε (for κ(ύρι)ε ?) and Τάτιος, since the latter name is quoted in his indices,62 though not adopted in his edition of the text. Peterson suggested that the entire group, including the cross, might have to be read as κὲ (for καὶ ?) ὁ Χριστός.63 Neither of these alternative readings are acceptable. Ketatios looks like a Latin name. Cedatius might be a good candidate, even though it is attested only rarely.64

14. Funerary monument of a woman, Mariamme

  • Suppl. 18116.
  • Donated by the Unione Industriale di Torino, 1969.
  • Hermonthis, ca. 6th-8th cent.
  • A sandstone stela, 47 × 28 × 11 cm, with sculptured decoration, the lower part of which consists of a Maltese cross within a laurel wreath in raised relief, contained within a square recessed field, with scrolls filling the upper corners, garlands the lower ones. The uppermost part of the stela consists of a triangular tympanum with a stylized acanthus motif. Between the cross and the tympanum, the slightly slanting epigraphic field is inserted. It is occupied by a Greek inscription in four lines of clear and deeply incised, though inelegant, uncials. The first line has been crudely erased, probably in antiquity. Remains of paint are visible in both the letters and the sculptured decoration. The base of the stela is missing.20 A square hole in the middle, below the inscription, must have served for the attachment of the stela and is most likely original.
  • Bibliography: unpublished. Cf. Donadoni Roveri, Egyptian Museum of Turin. Egyptian Civilization, Religious Beliefs, 1988, p. 242, fig. 337, cf. p. 257 (photo and brief description by Sergio Donadoni, the material erroneously indicated as white limestone); Donadoni, in Donadoni Roveri (ed.), Il Museo Egizio: guida alla lettura di una civiltà, 1993, p. 232, lower left (photo and brief description, with an erroneous inventory number Suppl. 18166).

Funerary monument of a woman, Mariamme. Turin, Museo Egizio, Suppl. 18116. Photo by Nicola Dell’Aquila and Federico Taverni/Museo Egizio.

  • Μαρι̣ά̣μμη. [Ο-]
  • ὐτὶς ἀθάνατ-
  • 3. ος ἐν τῷ κόσμ-
  • ͅ τούτῷ. vac.

1-2. ο|ὐτίς: οὐδείς || 3-4. κόσμ|ͅ: κόσμῷ.

Mariamme. Nobody is immortal in this world.

Stylistically and iconographically, this funerary monument belongs to the same class as our no. 13. Although acquired at different moments in time, both can be confidently assigned to the region of Hermonthis. The present text shows a different format, though. Here the name of the deceased is followed by the originally pre-Christian formula “nobody is immortal in this world”. Often preceded by μὴ λυπῇς, “do not grieve”, it addresses the deceased through the agency of the reader. It occurs in Greek and in Coptic forms throughout Upper Egypt and Lower Nubia, but is particularly frequent in the region between Thebes and Edfu.65

The name Mariamme (Mariame), apparently a hellenization of Mariam, occurs in Christian Egypt and Nubia, in both Greek and Coptic contexts.66

15. Funerary monument of a woman, Thermouthis (?)

  • Suppl. 18125. The front bears the Arabic number 978 in black ink.
  • Donated by the Unione Industriale di Torino, 1969.
  • Esna, ca. 6th-8th cent.
  • A round-topped sandstone stela, 54 × 31.5 × 7.5 cm, of the so-called portal-type, extensively sculptured in rather shallow relief. The portal, borne by a plinth with decorative scrolls, has the shape of an aedicula with two short columns carrying a triangular tympanum, surrounded by a guilloche motif that follows the contours of the stela. Between the columns a bird (Donadoni: “la fenice”, but rather an eagle) is depicted, raised on a low elevation, with outstretched wings and a bulla on its breast. The tympanum carries a symmetric pair of rampant lions. Its central motif, perhaps another bird, is damaged and not very well drawn. All parts of the stela show abundant floral decoration. Beneath the plinth that carries the portal, the epigraphic field contains a single line of Coptic text, incised in slightly irregular and clumsy uncials, damaged in its beginning and21 end. The first ny in ⲛⲥⲓⲗⲡ̣ⲁ̣ⲛ̣[ⲟⲥ] is inversed. The lower part of the stela is left blank. Some surface damage affects in particular the lower part of the stone, including the inscription.
  • Bibliography: unpublished. Cf. Donadoni, in Donadoni Roveri (ed.), Il Museo Egizio: guida alla lettura di una civiltà, 1993, p. 232, upper left (photo, brief description).

Funerary monument of a woman, Thermouthis (?). Turin, Museo Egizio, Suppl. 18125. Photo by Nicola Dell’Aquila and Federico Taverni/Museo Egizio.

  • [ⲑⲉⲣ]ⲙⲟⲩⲑⲓⲥ ϫⲓ ⲛⲥⲓⲗⲡ̣ⲁ̣ⲛ̣[ⲟⲥ]
  • Thermouthis, the daughter of Silvanus.

The text merely identifies the deceased. Neither her name nor that of her father can be deciphered with full certainty. Given the space available at the beginning of the line, the popular name Thermouthis or Termouthis is a reasonable guess.67 In the father’s name, everything beyond Sil- is conjectural; the name Silvanus is usually spelt ⲥⲓⲗⲃⲁⲛⲟⲥ, but a beta cannot be read here. The / swap occurs infrequently in all regions of Egypt and Nubia.68 The form of the filiation formula, ϫⲓ ⲛ- for ⲧϣⲉ ⲛ-, is found fairly often in southern epitaphs.69

Donadoni describes the stela as “forse da Assiut” (“perhaps from Asyut”),70 which is certainly incorrect. The style and elements of its decoration rank it with a numerous class of funerary monuments, generally considered to come from the region of Esna.71

16. Fragmentary epitaph of the Totenklage-type

  • Provv. 1580.
  • Circumstances of acquisition unknown.
  • Southern Upper Egypt, perhaps Aswan, ca. 9th-10th cent.
  • Two fragments of a single, originally much bigger sandstone funerary stela, presently measuring 31.5 × 20 × 7.5 cm. The upper fragment represents the upper right-hand corner of the original monument, while the lower fragment preserves part of its right-hand margin. The zone where the two fragments appear to connect is quite broken and the preserved parts have suffered considerable surface damage. The fragments bear the remains of the ends of fifteen lines of text in Sahidic Coptic. Should our tentative reconstruction of ll. 2 and 12-15 be accurate, the original length of the lines would be of about 33-35 characters. The top of the stela contains, in a box marked off by shallow incised ruling, an acclamation between summarily drawn crosses. The right-hand margin is also set off by a shallow incised line. The script is a regular upright uncial, carefully ruled and incised. The square U-shaped my and the fai ending in a curl to the left are indicative of a fairly late date, which is confirmed by elements of the text (for which see below). The shwa seems to be written always as (but note the exceptional superlinear stroke in l. 12); all iotas appear to carry a diaeresis (trema). The acclamation at the top of the stela is characterized by a larger letter size.
  • Bibliography: unpublished.22

Fragmentary epitaph of the Totenklage-type. Turin, Museo Egizio, Provv. 1580. Photo by Nicola Dell’Aquila and Federico Taverni/Museo Egizio.

  • [⁘ ※ ⲓ(ⲏⲥⲟⲩ)ⲥ ⲭ(ⲣⲓⲥⲧⲟ)ⲥ ⲛⲁ] ⲛⲁϥ ※ ⁘
  • [ⲱ ϯⲁⲡⲟⲫⲁⲥⲓⲥ ⲛⲁⲧⲕⲁⲧ]ⲉ̣ⲗⲩ ⲛⲁⲧⲉⲕⲧⲟⲥ ⲉⲡⲁϩⲟⲩ ⲱ ϯ-
  • 3. [ – – – ]ⲛ̣ ⲁⲛⲟⲛ ⲉⲛⲣⲱⲙⲉ ⲟⲩⲟⲓ̈ ⲛⲁⲛ ⲉⲛ-
  • [ – – – ] . ⲟⲩ̣ⲉϣ̣ ϫⲟⲉⲓ̣̈ [ϣⲁ]ⲧⲉⲛⲓ̈ⲣⲉ ⲧⲉⲓ̣̈-
  • [ – – – ]ⲛⲁⲡⲁⲕ̣ⲏⲥ ⲉⲙⲙⲁⲓ̈ⲛⲟ[ⲩ-]
  • 6. [ⲧⲉ – – – ]ⲏ ⲉⲧⲉ ⲁⲡⲟⲩⲥⲥⲟⲣ[ⲟⲩⲣ]
  • [ – – – ]̈ . ⲟⲛ ⲙⲱⲛⲟⲥ ⲁ̣ . [ . . . . ]
  • [ – – – ] . . . ⲧⲡ[ⲟ]`ⲗ´(ⲓⲥ) [ . . . . . . . ]
  • 9. [ – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – ] . .
  • [ – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – ]ⲛⲉⲥ
  • [ – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – ⲡⲛⲟ]ⲩⲧⲉ ⲉ̣ⲛ̣ⲛⲉⲡⲛ(ⲉⲩⲙ)ⲁ
  • 12. [ⲁⲩⲱ ⲡϫⲟⲉⲓⲥ ⲉⲛⲥⲁⲣⲝ ⲛⲓⲙ ⲉⲕⲉϯ ⲉⲙⲧ]ⲟ̣ⲛ ⲛ︥ⲧⲉϥⲙⲁⲕⲁ-
  • [ⲣⲓⲁ ⲉⲙⲯⲩⲭⲏ – – – – – – – – – – – ϩⲉⲙ ⲡⲧ]ⲟ̣ⲡⲟⲥ ⲉⲛⲧⲁ-
  • [ⲛⲁⲡⲁⲩⲥⲓⲥ ϩⲉⲛ ⲕⲟⲩⲛⲉϥ ⲉⲛⲛⲉⲛⲉⲓ]ⲱⲧ ⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ
  • 15 [ⲉⲙⲡⲁⲧⲣⲓⲁⲣⲭⲏⲥ ⲁⲃⲣⲁϩⲁⲙ ⲙⲉⲛ ⲓⲥⲁⲁⲕ ⲙ]ⲉⲛ ⲉⲓ̈ⲁ-
  • [ⲕⲱⲃ – – – – – – – – – – – – – – ] . . . .
  • [ – – – ]

2. -ⲕⲁⲧ]ⲉ̣ⲗⲩ: καταλύω || 8. perhaps ⲧ]ⲡ̣ⲓ̣ϩ̣ ⲧⲡ[ⲟ]\ⲗ/(ⲓⲥ)

+ + Jesus-Christ, have mercy upon him + + O, indissoluble and irreversible verdict! O, [ – – – ]! Woe to us, human beings, that we [ – – – ] without boat, until we make this [ – – – ] pious . . . [ – – – ] . . . , namely Apou’s-Sorour [ – – – ] alone (?) [ – – – ] . . . , the city [ – – – ]. God of the spirits and Lord of all flesh, may you grant rest to his blessed soul [ – – – ], in the place of repose, in the bosom of our holy fathers, the patriarchs, Abraham and Isaac and Jacob [ – – – ].

1. Tentatively reconstructed after the acclamation at the top of the lost stela of Patarmoute from Qasr Ibrim in Nubia (SB Kopt. IV, 2109, l. 1; cf. Van der Vliet, JEA 92 [2006], pp. 220–21, in the reprint, pp. 319–21); a similar acclamation in Greek, Θ(εὸ)ς ἐλεήμων, “Merciful God!”, is found at the top of the Berlin stela of a woman Elisabeth, presumably from northern Nubia (Koerner, AfP 18 [1966], p. 44, ll. 1-2, cf. pp. 45–46).

2. For this line, compare the very similar opening lines of the Totenklage-stela of a girl Mary (Paris, Bibliothèque nationale, date and provenance unknown; SBKopt I, 465; Cramer, Totenklage, 1941, no. 9), ll. 1-3: ⲱ ⲁⲡⲟⲫⲁⲥⲓⲥ ⲛⲁⲧⲡⲁ|ⲣⲁⲓⲧⲉⲓ ⲙⲙⲟⲥ ⲁⲩⲱ ⲛⲁⲧ|ⲃⲱⲗ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ, “O irrevocable and indissoluble verdict!”; and the Totenklage-stela of a priest George, from Antinoopolis (Ansina no. 414, reproduced in Ahmad Mustafa Abd-al-Aziz, “Collection of Coptic Tombstones”, 2014, p. 273, pl. 14), ll. 3-4: ⲧⲉⲫⲱⲛⲏ ⲛⲁⲧⲕⲧ|ⲟⲥ, “the irreversible pronouncement” (my readings; I thank Ibrahim Saweros, University of Sohag, for this reference). In all of these cases, God’s verdict over Adam is meant (Gen. 3:19), verbally quoted in the stela of George; cf. Van der Vliet, in Łajtar and Van der Vliet (eds.), Nubian Voices, 2011, pp. 202–09 (in the reprint, pp. 404–08).

4. My extremely uncertain readings and interpretation of this line are inspired by the voyage imagery of several of the Totenklage-stelae, in particular Cramer, Totenklage, 1941, nos. 3, 4 and 7 (SBKopt I, 781, 782 and 464); cf. Cramer, Totenklage, 1941, pp. 39 and 50–51. Accordingly, I take the entire passage of ll. 3-4 to mean something like: “Woe to us that we must go abroad without a boat, so as to make this distant crossing”. In [ϣⲁ]ⲧⲉⲛⲓ̈ⲣⲉ, the lacuna is too small for a reading of the standard form [ϣⲁⲛ]ⲧⲉⲛⲓ̈ⲣⲉ and too wide, for instance, for [ⲉⲛ]ⲧⲉⲛⲓ̈ⲣⲉ. If indeed ⲓ̈ⲣⲉ stands for ⲉⲓⲣⲉ and ⲧⲉⲓ̣̈- is the head of a nominal object, an object marker would be missing.

5. Apparently, this line marks the beginning of the naming lemma, which appears to continue at least to l. 8. The first legible word, ]ⲛⲁⲡⲁⲕ̣ⲏⲥ, must be (part of) a substantive or adjective, most likely referring to a person, qualified as “pious” in the same phrase.23 Note that instead of the doubtful kappa, a lambda, chi or alpha could also be read. It is hardly the rare and archaic word ἀβακής, “mild, gentle”, in spite of its suitable meaning.

6. The occurrence of an Arabic name, Abû’l-Surûr, confirms the late date suggested by the paleography. For this name in Coptic sources, see Heuser, Prosopographie, 1938, p. 14; Legendre in Boud’hors et al. (eds.), Coptica Argentoratensia, 2014, p. 429. It could be the name or, more likely, the surname of the owner of the stela or his father.

7. The remains of this line defy interpretation. ⲙⲱⲛⲟⲥ might stand for μόνος or μόνως.

8. The abbreviation of the word πόλις with a monogram (writing the ο inside and the λ on top of the π) is particularly frequent in medieval inscriptions (see Förster, Wörterbuch, 2002, pp. 659–60). What precedes may be a toponym, but cannot be deciphered with any certainty; if a toponym, ⲧ]ⲡ̣ⲓ̣ϩ̣, for modern Atfîh in Middle Egypt, might fit the very faint traces.

9-10. Largely lost in the huge gap between the two fragments.

11. Here starts a prayer of the “God of the spirits”-type, tentatively reconstructed after the epitaph of a priest Stephen, from Esna, of AD 1104 (Sauneron and Coquin, in Livre du centenaire, 1980, pp. 259–60, no. 57, ll. 14-20).

12. Note the use and the position of the superlinear stroke, elsewhere in the text replaced by ⲉ.

15-16. We read ⲙ]ⲉⲛ ⲉⲓ̈ⲁ|[ⲕⲱⲃ, “and Jacob”, since it seems likely that Abraham and Isaac were mentioned earlier. Alternatively, ]ⲉⲛⲉⲓ̈ⲁ could be the ending of a Greek noun.

These two fragments contain the remains of an epitaph, composed for a man, perhaps named or surnamed Abû’l-Surûr (l. 6). Just enough of the text survives to show that it adhered to the format of the Totenklage-stelae, epitaphs inscribed with a funerary lament.72 As the stelae of the Totenklage-genre show a great deal of textual variation, a satisfactory reconstruction of the extremely fragmentary text proves very difficult.

The text begins with the laments that are proper to the genre, about the inevitability of death and the human condition in general (ll. 2-3), while ll. 3-4 may refer to the image of death as a journey. From l. 5 onwards, the deceased appears to be introduced and l. 8 may have mentioned his home city. Lines 9-10 are almost entirely lacking. In l. 11, the invocation “God of the spirits” appears to mark the beginning of the prayer section, which allows for only a very partial reconstruction (our ll. 11-16).

The Coptic redaction of the famous, originally Greek funerary prayer “God of the spirits” (here ll. 11-16) seems to make its appearance in Egyptian funerary epigraphy only at a rather late date, not before the eighth century.73 Also the paleography and the occurrence of an Arabic name in l. 6 favor a date towards the turn of the millennium.

The genre of the Totenklage-epitaphs is generally believed to have had its epicenter in early Islamic Antinoopolis.74 The present piece is not only a rather late representative of the genre, but also certainly stems from much farther south. The material, brittle reddish sandstone, suggests a provenance in southern Upper Egypt, perhaps as far south as Aswan, where a single fragmentary example has been discovered in the ruins of the famous Saint Hadra monastery.75

Index of names in the edited texts
Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, patriarchs 10, 12-13; 16, 15-16 (?)
Abû’l-Surûr, masc. pers. 16, 6 (ⲁⲡⲟⲩⲥⲥⲟⲣ[ⲟⲩⲣ])
Betir, masc. pers. 5, 13
Chri[ … ], masc. pers. 2, 2
Diocletian, emperor 2, 6; 7, 2; 9, 14; 10, 17-18
Elijah, masc. pers. 5, 5 (ⲁⲡⲁ ϩⲏⲗⲓⲁ̣[ⲥ])
Epimache, masc. pers. 4, 4
Gerosa, fem. pers. 1
Jesus Christ 4, 11; 8, 16-17; (16, 1)
John, masc. pers. 5, 12-13 (ⲓⲱ[ϩ]ⲁⲛⲛⲏⲥ)
Ketatios, masc. pers. 13, 1-2
Maleu (?), fem. pers. 10, 7 (ⲙⲁⲗ̣ⲏⲩ)
Mariamme, fem. pers. 14, 1
Menas, masc. pers. 10, 8 (ⲙⲏⲛ)
Meneshe, masc. pers. (?) 11, 5-6 (ⲙⲏⲛⲉϣⲏ)
Noute, masc. pers. 8, 12
Pamoune Psobt, top. 5, 9-10; 5, 13-14
Poli[ … ], masc. pers. (?) 12, 1-2
Phoibammon, masc. pers. 3, 8-9 (ⲫⲟⲓⲃⲁⲙⲱⲛ); 5, 8-9
Saracens, people 9, 15; 10, 17
Severus, masc. pers. 9, 5 (ⲥⲉⲩⲏⲣⲟⲥ)
Silvanus, masc. pers. 15 (ⲥⲓⲗⲡ̣ⲁ̣ⲛ̣[ⲟⲥ])
Thermouthis (?), fem. pers. 15
Tse, fem. pers. 11, 4 (ⲧⲥⲏ)
Victor, masc. pers. 5, 1 (ⲁⲡⲁ ⲃⲓⲕⲧⲱ[ⲣ])
[ . ]aqo, fem. pers. 9, 4 ([ . ]ⲁϭⲱ)


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