There are a good number of surviving letters written by Qurra ben Sharik (in office between 709 and 714), Governor of Egypt at the beginning of the 8th century. The Governor resided in Al-Fusṭāṭ, capital of Egypt under Muslim rule. The recipient of these letters is Basilius, pagarch (the local official or administrator) of the territory of the country that had Aphrodito as an administrative centre. This archive, which includes documents written in Greek, Arabic, and Coptic, is of utmost importance for our understanding and knowledge of the administration of Egypt at the turn of the 8th century. The letters often concern taxes, arrears, and the problem of fugitives moving from one place to another.
Fugitives might have been the object of this fragmentary letter on papyrus, of which only a few lines remain. The interest of this piece, however, lies in the presence of the original clay seal, which has a device featuring an animal, perhaps a horse or a wolf, and a star. The seal would have been used to both authenticate and protect the document itself.
- Article by:
- Cillian O’Hogan
- The makers of Greek manuscripts, Papyri
What did books look like in antiquity? In this article, Cillian O’Hogan tells how ancient books were made, and traces the process by which the bookroll was replaced by the codex.