Exhibitions/ Art Object
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Ostrakon with a Letter from Pesynthius to Peter

Date:
580–640
Geography:
Made in Thebes, Byzantine Egypt
Culture:
Coptic
Medium:
Pottery fragment with ink inscription
Dimensions:
5 9/16 × 5 × 1 15/16 in. (14.2 × 12.7 × 4.9 cm)
Classification:
Ceramics
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1914
Accession Number:
14.1.165
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 302
Ostraca are texts written on broken pottery, which were employed when parchment was unavailable or too expensive. At Epiphanius a large number of ostraca were discovered in the monastery, including in its rubbish heaps; they record biblical verses, legal documents, sermons, financial accounts, school texts, and letters requesting assistance and prayers. Some reveal that, even at the southernmost border of the Empire, people were still aware of events in the capital, Constantinople.

Ostracon with a Letter from Pesynthius to Peter
Be so good and go unto the dwelling of Athanasius, the son of Sabinus, the craftsman, and get good goat skins, either 3 or 4, or whatsoever thou shalt find of good (ones); and do thou bring them me, that I may choose one therefrom for this book. But hasten and bring them. And if Athanasius desire to bring them, and he come, [let him] bring them. If thou find not (skins) with him, … another craftsman and bring [them].
Give to unto Peter; from Pesynthius, this humblest one.
From the east buildings at the Monastery of Epiphanius at Thebes. Museum excavations, 1913–14. Acquired by the Museum in the division of finds, 1914.
Crum, W. E., and H. G. Evelyn-White. The Monastery of Epiphanius at Thebes. Vol. II. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1926. no. 380, p. 254.



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