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Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik




The papyrus edited below, P.Mich. inv. 3999, was purchased for the University of Michigan in 1925. It belongs to lot IV of the Nahman papyri, all of which come from Oxyrhynchus. The papyrus measures (roughly) 12 cm. (width) by 25 cm. (height). Margins are small at top (0.8 cm.) and (until line 19) at left (0.5 cm., discounting the vertical strip whose partial remains appear opposite lines 8-13). The prayer (lines 20-24) below the letter's body is indented at the left ca. 2.5 cm. inward from the mu of mhd°no!, the first word in line 19 (therefore ca. 3.0 cm. from the papyrus' left edge; cf. similarly P.Ross.-Georg. III 9.21-24). Righthand margin is virtually non-existent. At line ends (cf. 5, 7, 11, 12, 14) sigmas are sometimes finished off as filler strokes brought out to the very right edge of the papyrus. The bottom margin (there is seemingly no more writing after line 25 on the front) is also, where it can be measured, small, 0.3-0.5 cm. In antiquity, on completion of the front-side text, written along the papyrus' fibers, the papyrus was apparently folded inward, lengthwise in thirds, from right to left. One indication of this is that the righthand third is considerably narrower than the middle and lefthand thirds. The result was a long (25 cm.), narrow (4.4 cm.) strip. The strip was then turned over and sideways, and inscribed, again along the fibers, on the back of the lefthand third of the front-side text–another indication that the original folding went from right to left. The long, narrow strip was then itself folded in two, slightly off-center, resulting in a packet ca. 4.4 cm. x 13.7 cm. On the packet's inside was preserved (rather well) the text of P.Mich. inv. 3999. Ironically, yet quite naturally, it is along the creases that created the protective packet that the principal losses to the text have occurred. The two lines of writing on the outside of the packet are badly abraded. Though many details in these lines are clear, equally much is obscure. The sum has resisted satisfactory decipherment and connected sense has not been recovered. The lines appear not to be an address, but rather an addendum to the text of the front, possibly, but not assuredly, in a different hand.


Author Posting. © Dr. Rudolf Habelt GmbH, Bonn, 1988. This article is posted here by permission of Verlag Rudolf Habelt for personal use, not for redistribution. It was published in Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 75 (1988).

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.