Chapter 3 The Pamour Family: Familial and Economic Networks

In: The Manichaean Church in Kellis
Håkon Fiane Teigen
Search for other papers by Håkon Fiane Teigen in
Current site
Google Scholar
Open Access

Fourth-century Kellis was still a bustling place. Signs of decay might be detected in the blocked doorway of the great temple of Tutu in the west, or the abandoned houses in its eastern part. But just east of the temple, a residential area of flatroofed, mudbrick housing units divided by a series of east-west lanes and narrow alleys was still prospering. Churches were built here, one even exhibiting stained glass panels, and from the papyri we learn that elite families were closely linked to the village. In this area, facing a large administrative complex to its north and with its main entrances facing a wider thoroughfare to the south, lay the group of domestic units designated House 1–3. Here were found nearly all the papyri pertaining to Manichaean presence so far excavated from Kellis. The owners of these papyri are the subject of the present chapter and the next. We introduce the people visible in these texts, tracing prominent individuals and their network of relatives and acquaintances, and we examine their business activities, the trading, weaving, and caravan-driving with which their letters are pre-eminently concerned.

In many ways, the House 1–3 complex is unremarkable. Its three separate units were built in the late third century, while occupation continued until at least the 380s, without major structural changes to their layout (for which, see Figure 4).1 They were one-storied houses with roof terraces, whose main doorways faced a street to the south. The walls were mud plastered, with white-plastered areas surrounding niches that, along with palm-rib shelves, were used for storage. Rooms were accessed by way of wooden doorways; roofs were barrel-vaulted or supported by wooden beams. The houses were smaller and plainer than the wealthy residence in Area B, lacking atria and wall-decorations. The largest of them was House 3, which was also the first to be built. Most of its rooms were centred on an inner courtyard, Room 6, which was furnished with a hearth. A few rooms lined an external courtyard to the north, where animals may have been kept, while stairs in the central Room 7 provided access to the roof. This style largely conforms to patterns found elsewhere in Dakhleh.2

Figure 4
Figure 4

Map of House 1–3

Credit: Dakhleh Oasis Project and Colin A. Hope

The owners of the papyri, then, would seem to have belonged to the middle stratum of Kellis society – on the assumption that the people appearing in the texts also inhabited the houses, a question to which we return below. House 3 was the main papyrological find-site, furnishing a large quantity of papyri in both Greek and Coptic, most of them found in the central inner court, Room 6. House 2 also provided some important finds, mostly in Greek. Several of its texts can be prosopographically linked to those of House 3. House 1 and the North Building mainly contained fragments. But these remains, too, evince links to House 3, prosopographically and even physically.3 Altogether, the documentary papyri found in House 1–3 (so far published) make up around 208 papyri texts; 90 in Greek and 116 in Coptic, as well as some ostraka, both Greek and Coptic.

1 The Circles of House 3

Many of the documentary texts can be grouped into different ‘circles’, based chiefly on recurring authors/recipients, at times combined with other recurring features such as central actors, subject matters, palaeography, or find-site. An initial grouping was made by Klaas A. Worp, based on the Greek texts and supplemented with a few readings from the then yet-to-be published Coptic papyri.4 For House 2, Worp found two prominent circles: that of Pausanias and his associate Gena, and that of Tithoes son of Petesis and his son Samoun. The former were chiefly active in the first half of the fourth century, the latter in the second half. For House 3, the Greek material was dominated by Pamour I son of Psais I and his descendants. Their activities span almost the entire fourth century.

Not every document could easily be fitted into these circles, however.5 And turning to the Coptic material, the vast majority of Coptic texts published in P.Kellis V – almost all of which came from House 3 – could not be directly attributed to the circles of P.Kellis I. The editors made a preliminary prosopography of 173 names.6 They noted only one letter clearly authored by one of the above-mentioned actors, Tithoes’ P.Kellis V Copt. 12. The rest of this material could be grouped into four main circles (excluding the ‘Manichaean letters’, in which names were generally lost or omitted): Tehat/Horion, Maria/Makarios, Psais/Andreas, and the Petros circle.7 As the Coptic texts – with a very few exceptions – lack dates and patronyms, the Greek documents remained crucial for establishing a timeline for these latter circles. Fortunately, some actors from the Greek texts make their appearance in the Coptic material as well, tying some of these circles to the mid fourth-century Pamour family. Other figures could also be linked with dated Greek texts, giving a tentative timeline for the principle circles of both House 2 and 3 (see below). The recurrence of many names made it clear that there were connections between most (if not all) of these circles, although the editors deferred from sorting out most of them until the completion of the second volume of Coptic texts.

This volume, P.Kellis VII, mainly contained material from House 3 (around 64 texts) not directly related to the circles from P.Kellis V – the editors found only three texts belonging to these circles.8 Instead, the bulk of letters from P.Kellis VII pertain to the later Pamour family. Most were authored by Pamour III, his wife Maria II, his brother Pekysis, or close associates such as Philammon II and Theognostos: what is here called the Pamour/Pekysis circle. Familial ties between these circles could be established, such as the role of Maria I, correspondent of Makarios: she appears to have been mother to Maria II, and so mother-in-law to Pamour III. The timeline remained unchanged, as the editors still placed the material of Makarios in the late 350s, and attributed those of Pamour III and Maria II to the successive generation. They concluded:

In sum, our interpretation is that the Makarios family correspondence dates from the later 350s C.E. (the evidence for this is discussed in some detail in CDT I). Probably it was preserved for some years by his wife Maria who lived as an elderly relative in House 3. In contrast, the core Pamour documents belong to a younger generation. Perhaps they were mainly written ten-fifteen years later, and thus never mention Makarios or Matthaios; but the old woman was still alive in the house.9

To sum up, the principle circles of the Greek material from House 2 and 3 are:

  • House 2

    • 330s: The Pausanias/Gena circle

    • 360s: The Tithoes/Samoun circle

  • House 3

    • 300–380: The Pamour family

    • 290s–320s: Pamour I, son of Psais I, and Philammon I

    • 330s–360s: Psais II, son of Pamour I

    • 350s–380s: Pamour III and Pekysis, sons of Psais II

While the principle circles of the Coptic letters of House 3 are:

  • c.355: The Horion/Tehat circle

  • 350s (late): The Maria/Makarios circle

  • 360s (early/late?):10 The Pamour/Pekysis circle

  • 360s (late): The Psais/Andreas circle

  • c.370: The Petros circle

There were, however, many letters in the second volume whose relationships to these ‘core’ circles were difficult to establish. They include letters from and to Ploutogenes (P.Kellis VII Copt. 85–91), likely several persons by that name; letters from Loihat and Timotheos (P.Kellis VII Copt. 92–93); and a sizable amount of letters that could not be easily placed in any one circle (P.Kellis VII Copt. 94–121), although links to one of the above circles can usually be found in those cases where the papyrus is not too damaged.

The editors have made many valuable comments and suggestions for identifying actors and sorting out the relationships between the primary circles as well as to these other letters. However, as P.Kellis VII did not contain an updated prosopography, the possible ties between them remain only partially explored.11 In the following, we shall introduce these actors and consider these relationships more closely. Because of the extensive usage of familial terminology in the Coptic texts, kinship terms can only reasonably be taken to designate (biological) family relationship in a few, exceptional cases. They are, however, useful for establishing broad generations.12 Some care is needed also in this context: this usage, too, could be fluid and contextual, as evinced by instances of individuals designated both ‘father’ and ‘brother’ by the same author. We therefore have to consider a combination of kinship terms, shared prosopography, roles, dating, and find site in order to establish identifications. Even so, the identifications that can be made strongly suggest that all the above circles can be seen as forming part of the extended Pamour family, even if the evidence is often circumstantial and their precise relationships cannot always be established with certainty (Figure 5).

Figure 5
Figure 5

The extended Pamour family

1.1 Pamour III and Pekysis

The earliest active member of the Pamour family found in the sources is Pamour (I), son of Psais (I), attested for the period 299–331. He was married to a woman named Tekysis (I), and worked closely with a man named Philammon (I). Their preserved documents are primarily judicial texts: only two letters can, with some uncertainty, be attributed to Pamour I and Philammon I, respectively.13 Psais (II), son of Pamour I and Tekysis I, is better known. His datable activities span the mid-fourth century, from 333 to 364, and so he was born (at the latest) c.315, and probably earlier. His wife was Tapollo, and their known children include Pamour (III), Pekysis, and a daughter, probably Tekysis (III). He also had a brother, Pamour (II), but he can only be identified with certainty in one document, P.Kellis I Gr. 42: most occurrences of the name ‘Pamour’ in the Coptic texts relate to Psais II’s son, Pamour III.

Psais II figures prominently in the mid-fourth century Coptic documents, although mostly indirectly, through references to ‘father’ Psais. Few letters can be attributed to his authorship. The only reasonably certain example is P.Kellis VII Copt. 110, written to his sons from the Nile Valley. The family had strong ties to the Valley: several documents found in House 1–3 were written in Aphrodito, a village located between Lycopolis and Antinoopolis not far from a route leading to the Great Oasis. Psais II had made Aphrodito his primary residence by 364, and his brother, Pamour II, had done likewise by the same year.14 Psais II’s wife Tapollo seems to have remained in Kellis, while their sons took charge of business; she is sometimes referred to by the hypocoristic form ‘Lo’ in the Coptic letters.15

However, it is Psais II’s sons, Pamour III and Pekysis, who are the most central figures in the archive. They, too, had begun travelling between Oasis and Valley by the time of or in the early 360s, and it is their circle that is best documented by the private letters. Their period of activity covers c.350 to 380. Although both brothers at times employ religious greetings and prayers, even distinctly Manichaean cues (see Chapter 5, Section 3.2), their main concern is business. Pamour III was the older of the two. He first appears in a dated document in P.Kellis I Gr. 24, dated 352, where he writes on behalf of a group of signatories. He must have been a grown man at this time, perhaps born c.330 or earlier.16 By the early 360s, he had married and fathered three children, among them a boy and a girl. This is documented by P.Kellis I Gr. 30, a contract dated to 363, concerned with the rights of property that belonged to Pamour’s deceased wife, given to their son, Horos (III).17 By this time, Pamour had clearly developed strong ties to the Nile Valley, as this property was located in Aphrodito. It may well be that his wife originated there. The scribe even labels Pamour and Horos as ‘Egyptians’, perhaps referring to the family’s attempt to integrate into Valley society.18 Still, Pamour was located in the Oasis at the time when the contract was drawn up, and had to be represented by his father, Psais II. He must have kept going back to the Oasis also after putting down roots in the Valley. At the same time, all his preserved letters, both Coptic (P.Kellis VII Copt. 64–72) and Greek (P.Kellis I Gr. 71), are written from the Nile Valley. They are most often addressed to his brother Pekysis and/or a brother Psais (III), but greet a number of other associates as well. Several of his letters contain postscripts by a Maria (II), probably his wife, although identifying her with the woman in P.Kellis I Gr. 30 presents some problems (see below). At the time of his last appearance in a dated document, P.Kellis I Gr. 33 (369), he was again in Kellis, leasing out a room in a house. It does not specify that he was residing in Aphrodito at this time, and so he may still have been formally residing in Kellis. At any rate, a private contract between him and Pekysis, P.Kellis VII Copt. 69, confirms that he, at some point, made his residence in the Valley.

This contract also states that Pekysis was now put in charge of their inherited property in Kellis. In addition to being addressed by Pamour III and greeted in other documents, Pekysis is himself the author of a number of preserved letters (P.Kellis VII Copt. 73–79, P.Kellis I Gr. 72, 76). He had a wife, probably a weaver named Partheni (II), and children – at least one boy – by c.360.19 His letters are also written from the Valley, where he, too, clearly did much business, although he retained stronger ties to Kellis than Pamour. But despite frequently occurring in the private letters, Pekysis is only identifiable with certainty in one datable Greek document: P.Kellis I Gr. 44, a loan-contract from 382 written in Aphrodito, which sees him borrowing a gold solidus from another Kellis villager located there. It does not specify that he was residing in Aphrodito, and Pekysis likely brought it back with him to the village, so he was probably still a Kellis resident at this point.

Many other associates feature prominently in the letters of these two brothers; including their sister Tekysis III,20 her husband Kapiton I, the couple Philammon II and Charis, a certain ‘father’ Horos I, and the ‘brothers’ Psais III, Andreas, and Theognostos. All of these occur as authors and/or recipients in their own right, although in several instances their specific relationship to Pamour III or Pekysis is difficult to discern. In the case of Psais III, he was probably another, younger brother of Pamour III/Pekysis. Below it is argued that he and ‘brother’ Andreas should be identified with the protagonists of the Psais/Andreas circle.

The family seems in general to have been on good terms with each other. The letters contain many expressions of longing for each other’s company or concern for each other’s health. To be sure, formulaic phrases to this effect are common in the papyri, and it is difficult to differentiate between heartfelt concern and stock topoi. But some peculiar expressions, at times reinforced by pious religious language, suggest that these were not only formalities. In P.Kellis I Gr. 71, Pamour III greets Psais III as ‘most honoured and truly longed for brother’ (ll.1–2), while in P.Kellis VII Copt. 72, he addresses Psais III and Theognostos with an elaborate prayer and phrases such as: ‘For no one knows the love for you that pierces my heart, save God alone’ (ll.5–7). In P.Kellis I Gr. 72, to Pamour III, Pekysis writes in the margins: ‘I’ll come to you quickly for this, because you appeared heavy-headed’ (l.43). At the same time, the letters also attest to tensions. Tekysis III’s husband, Kapiton I, seems to have disappeared after a bitter conflict: in P.Kellis I Gr. 76, Pekysis writes that his brother-in-law has gone off somewhere in the Valley, that they no longer have anything in common, and refers to him as ‘a certain so-called Kapiton (τινος λεγοµένου Καπίτωνος)’ (ll.6–7).

The later history of the family is unknown. Only two papyri from House 3 give evidence to activity after Pekysis’ loan contract from 382, but these do not (as far as we can tell) concern descendants of Pamour III or Pekysis. Another loan contract dated 386, P.Kellis I Gr. 45, may concern a nephew of theirs: Kapiton (II) son of Kapiton (I), at that time resident in the village Thio.21 The latest datable text of the archive is P.Kellis I Gr. 77, a heavily fragmented record of a judicial proceeding from 389, where no familiar name is discernible.

Excursus. Dating the Pamour/Pekysis Circle: Maria II and P.Kellis I Gr. 30

The editors dated the private letters of Pamour III and Pekysis to the late 360s or early 370s. However, the contract P.Kellis I Gr. 30, dated 363, may in fact put most of them about half a decade earlier, in the early 360s. This argument needs some explication. The contract pertains to an exchange of property rights between Horos (III), son of Pamour (III) son of Psais (II), and a man named Psenpnouthes. Horos III has inherited a share in a house in Aphrodito from his mother, but as both Horos and his father Pamour III are unable to participate, it falls to grandfather Psais II to represent them. Since Maria II is by far the most likely candidate to be the wife of Pamour III, her death in 363 would place all letters that she was involved in at a time prior to this date.22 Conversely, letters by Pamour III where Maria II is absent, but where one would expect her to add a postscript, could more tentatively be dated after her death.23 A mention of her death might even be found in a letter by their relative, Philammon II. In P.Kellis VII Copt. 80, he speaks of a ‘great evil’ that has come upon Pamour,24 writing to Pekysis that: ‘For you are the ones who ought to comfort him; surely we know that a great evil has befallen him. And we also heard that the old woman departed the body’ (ll.12–16). Since the second evil involves the death of an elderly woman, the first evil may similarly involve a death, and one which was especially hard on Pamour III. The death of his wife seems an obvious candidate.25 The name Maria does not appear in Philammon II’s other letters.

Still, this chain of events remains conjectural, and there are some objections. One concerns the age of Pamour III’s son, Horos III, who inherited his mother in P.Kellis I Gr. 30. He was, at some point, appointed to a village liturgy in Kellis, according to Pekysis’ letter P.Kellis I Gr. 72. In this letter, Pamour’s wife is still alive and sends greetings to her husband in the Valley. Naphtali Lewis has suggested that Horos did not represent himself in P.Kellis I Gr. 30 because he was a minor, and so had to be represented by his grandfather.26 However, Horos being a minor at his mother’s death would seem to be inconsistent with her being alive at his liturgy-appointment: liturgies were usually reserved mature, able-bodied men.27 In this case, Pamour III must have had two wives: one who died in 363, while Horos III was a minor, and one who was alive after Horos came of age and was appointed to the liturgy. The latter could be Maria II, making the editors’ date of the Pamour letters to the late 360s probable.28 On the other hand, the need for a representative in P.Kellis I Gr. 30 can be satisfactorily explained by Horos III having been home in the Oasis – where, indeed, he is located in P.Kellis I Gr. 72.

Another objection comes from cross-referencing with the other circles. If Maria II was the wife who died in 363, most of Pamour III’s letters would be contemporary with, or separated only by a few years from, those of the Maria/Makarios circle. However, as noted by the editors, Makarios is absent from the letters of the Pamour/Pekysis circle. They proposed a generational shift between the two, in the form of a ten – fifteen years gap between the Maria/Makarios letters in the late 350s and the Pamour letters in the late 360s–c.370.29 In that case, Maria II has to be taken as Pamour III’s second wife. Still, it seems to me that the extensive overlap between these circles in other respects suggests that, while there may well have been a temporal gap, it was not very large. Central ‘older’ figures, such as Psenpnouthes I and Kyria I, Philammon II and Charis, ‘mother’ Tapshai I, and Apa Lysimachos, are active in both circles. Moreover, a similar objection could be directed at the letters of the Horion/Tehat circle, which the editors take to be roughly contemporary with Maria/Makarios, although its central actors are absent also here. On the principle that we should not assume a remarriage if the evidence can be explained in a more straightforward manner, I prefer a dating in the early 360s for most of the letters of Pamour III, with perhaps a three – five year gap between him and the letters of the Maria/Makarios circle. Letters by other members of this circle (Philammon II, Theognostos, Pekysis) that do not feature Maria II, could still belong to a somewhat later period (e.g. mid-360s).

1.2 Maria I and Makarios

Another circle identified by the editors is centred on ‘mother’ Maria (I). She is the main recipient of at least seven Coptic letters, written by her ‘brother’ Makarios and her ‘sons’ Matthaios and Piene.30 She was located with other relatives and associates in Kellis. Maria I was presumably the biological mother of Matthaios and Piene; Makarios could be either her husband or brother. The letters of this circle exemplify the difficulty of tracing familial ties, due to the authors’ generous use of kinship terminology. Thus, Makarios addresses Maria I alongside her ‘brethren’, Psenpnouthes I and Kyria I, and ‘mother’ Tamougenia; in addition, he mentions or greets a large number of other ‘brothers’, ‘sisters’, ‘mothers’, and ‘fathers’ (see Chapter 6, Section 3.1).

Many of the names recur in the Pamour/Pekysis circle. This includes those of Pamour, Pekysis, and Philammon themselves, who can be identified with the central actors from that circle.31 A passage in Pamour III’s letter P.Kellis I Gr. 71 provides a clue to the relationship between them, as pointed out by the editors.32 In a postscript added by Maria II, she addresses her ‘mother’ Maria. There is little reason to doubt that this is Maria I, biological mother of Maria II. Maria I, Makarios, Matthaios, and Piene can thus be comfortably identified as the in-laws of Pamour III. Yet, Makarios and Matthaios do not recur in the Pamour/Pekysis circle at all, and while several variants of the name Ploutogenes (i.e. Piene) do occur, these are so common both in the House 1–3 texts and Kellis at large that an identification here is difficult.33

Makarios, Piene, and Matthaios all write from locations in the Nile Valley. Makarios and Matthaios both write from Hermopolis and seem to have made it their primary residence, but they also made trips to nearby Antinoopolis. Makarios did conduct some business in the Valley. His letters contain many mundane requests for items (often textiles), fruit, or money, in return for which he provided often bad news of the family’s doings in the Valley – indeed, the editors noted that ‘[i]t seems to be somewhat characteristic of Makarios (or at least his style) that he spends a good deal of his time being “distressed” at one thing or another.’34 But Makarios’ business concerns are nested in elaborate religious language and religious concerns. Thus, in the incipit of P.Kellis V Copt. 22, he greets Maria and her co-recipients as ‘the good care-takers, zealous in every good thing, the children of the living race, the fruit of the flourishing tree and the blossoms of love’ (ll.4–6). In P.Kellis V Copt. 19, addressed to Matthaios, he attributes a saying to ‘the Paraclete’, exhorts Matthaios to study religious literature, and discusses the affairs of a certain ‘deacon’. The letters of Matthaios and Piene display a similarly religious tone, employing prayers typical of the Manichaean repertoire (see Chapter 5), while mundane requests are almost absent from their letters. Moreover, Makarios and the two sons often discuss the doings of what is clearly figures of religious authority, such as Apa Lysimachos and ‘the Teacher’. Young Piene was particularly close to these men; he is found staying with Lysimachos in Antinoopolis, and following the Teacher all the way to Alexandria. It is likely that he was receiving religious instruction.35

1.3 Psais III and Andreas

In P.Kellis V, the editors included three letters addressed to a man named Psais: two written by a certain Ouales (i.e. Valens) and one by a certain Ammon; P.Kellis V Copt. 35, 36, and 37, respectively.36 Psais is greeted with a ‘brother’ Andreas both in P.Kellis V Copt. 36 and 37. In turn, both Psais and Andreas are called ‘brothers’ by the authors, although they are clearly not their biological brothers. Relatives may include the two ‘little brothers’, Iena and [Hor], greeted by Ouales in P.Kellis V Copt. 36.37 This group of brothers are the primary actors of what may be termed the Psais/Andreas circle. As we shall see, their texts are of great importance for understanding the later history of the Pamour family, as well as for Manichaean textual practices at Kellis. Unfortunately, however, its actors are also difficult to relate to other texts, due to the currency of their names – Psais, Iena (i.e. Ploutogenes), and Hor, in particular – at Kellis. Yet some identifications can be made.

For one, some texts can be attributed to this circle based, among other indicators, on featuring the same constellation and sequence of names as P.Kellis V Copt. 36 (see Table 3). On this basis, at least five more texts can be added to the Psais/Andreas circle.38 Somewhat less certainly, these actors can be related to the so-called Ploutogenes letters, where it seems possible to identify, amongst others, the ‘little brothers’ of Psais/Andreas with two figures here termed Ploutogenes III and Horos II.39 Finally, and most importantly, the duo Psais and Andreas can be shown to feature prominently in the Pamour/Pekysis circle. A connection between these circles was anticipated by the editors in P.Kellis V,40 and the material in P.Kellis VII bears it out. The closest associate of Pamour III and Pekysis is, indeed, a certain ‘brother’ Psais III, regularly occurring with a younger ‘brother’ Andreas. A large number of other prosopographic ties between the two circles strongly supports the identification of these two with the principle figures of the Psais/Andreas circle.41

Table 3
Table 3

Sequence of Psais, Andreas, Ploutogenes, and Horos

Through these documents we gain a sense of the role of Psais and his associates within the Pamour family. Psais III was primarily located in Kellis, where he had an important role in attending to household matters and textile work for the Pamour family, being often asked to acquire wool or hire workers.42 He was also involved in religious affairs: several letters addressed to him contain strong expressions of religious sentiment, and some request him to perform religious duties.43 Considering the responsibilities entrusted to him by Pamour III and Pekysis, it is likely that he was their biological brother.

Turning Andreas, Ploutogenes III, and Horos II, it is likely that they, too, were younger relatives of the Pamour family, although the specifics of their relation are difficult to determine. Unfortunately, Ploutogenes/Horos cannot unambiguously be identified in the letters of Pamour III and Pekysis. This may provide a hint as to the dating of this circle. As previously discussed, the letters by Pamour III and Pekysis, including those to Psais III/Andreas, probably date to the early – mid 360s. It seems likely that the letters where Ploutogenes III and Horos II are mentioned by name belong to a later period in the history of the household, when these two had reached adulthood. The gap may not have been very large, as figures from the Maria/Makarios circle were still active in their time. A period of five to ten years after the letters of the Pamour/Pekysis circle – i.e. the late 360s or early 370s–seems reasonable, and is in line with what was previously suggested by the editors.44 At this point, Pamour III and Pekysis had probably largely taken over their father’s responsibilities, the former having moved more or less permanently to the Valley, bringing a new generation to the fore in the Oasis.

1.4 Tehat, Horion, and Horos I

Another central figure in the material is the weaver Tehat. The name is found in a range of different documents: as recipient (P.Kellis V Copt. 18, 51, P.Kellis VII Copt. 58) and author (P.Kellis V Copt. 43, 50) of several letters. Two of these letters, P.Kellis V Copt. 18 and P.Kellis VII Copt. 58, were written by a man named Horion.45 His letters concern orders for clothes sent to Tehat and her associate Hatres, and strongly imply that Tehat was responsible for a textile workshop located in Kellis. She was in all likelihood the author of a group of accounts in Coptic (P.Kellis V Copt. 44, 46–48), based on language, prosopographic ties and contents. Tehat is greeted by a neighbour of the family, Samoun, in the Greek letter P.Kellis I Gr. 12,46 and could well be a ‘sister Hat’ referred to in two Coptic letters, P.Kellis VII Copt. 93 and 95. Finally, she may be identifiable with a Tehat owing cotton ‘for weaving’ in the KAB (558–59), in which case her father’s name was Iena.47

In P.Kellis V Copt. 43, Tehat writes from outside of Kellis, addressing a ‘son’ whose name is difficult to decipher.48 Much of the Coptic text is lost, but Tehat appears to be imploring the son to send something with pack animals and perform an act of charity. A Greek postscript to this letter is better preserved. It contains a message concerning a shipment of oil, and greetings from a Leporius and a Makarios. P.Kellis V Copt. 50 is likewise a letter to a son by a female author, dealing with freight to ‘the border (ⲡⲧⲁϣ)’49 and work related to ‘the storehouses (ⲛ̄ϩⲱⲣ)’. Although the names of both author and recipient are lost, the frame and the occurrence of a Hatres working with the author and of an associate named Horion provide good reasons for identifying the author as Tehat.50

In addition to the two letters to Tehat/Hatres, three more letters from this Horion have been preserved addressed to a ‘brother’ Horos (P.Kellis V Copt. 15–17) – a man who did, however, have close ties to Tehat/Hatres.51 Whereas Horion’s letters to Tehat/Hatres are primarily business-oriented, his letters to Horos evince a more complex relationship. Horos I and Horion were probably not biological brothers.52 Horion’s letters still suggest a strong tie between them, and are adorned with religious language, greeting Horos for instance as a ‘limb of the Light Mind’. They, too, discuss work, in this case work that Horion is doing on behalf of Horos, involving transactions of money, oil, and wheat. At least some of these transactions are described as for the agape, a form of charity probably intended for Elect (see Chapter 8). Several ‘our sons’, such as Timotheos, Rax, and Pateni, assist Horion in his transactions. The kinship terms are clearly used in a communal sense, and probably in a (lay) religious context.

Turning to their dating, a variety of evidence gives a date range of c.355–70 for Tehat,53 and dates in the mid – late 350s for Horion. Although the letters cannot be placed with certainty beyond the broad period c.355–80, the editors inclined towards a date in the mid-late 350s due to prosopographical considerations.54 As to their location, Tehat was probably chiefly located in Kellis, although she also made trips such as that to the ‘border’, while Horion wrote from somewhere perhaps not too far off from Kellis.

This raises the question of their relationship to the Pamour family. The accounts attributed to Tehat mention Psais II and Pamour (probably III) by name, but these central members of the family do not appear in the letters of Horion. Instead, another group of figures may offer a key to the relationship between the circles, namely Partheni II, Theognostos, and Horos. As mentioned previously, Partheni, often shortened ‘Heni’, was the wife of Pekysis: her name recurs several times in relation to textile work on behalf of Tehat. Furthermore, she was closely linked to the figure of Theognostos, a ‘brother’ often greeted by Pamour III and Pekysis.55 His name is found in Horion’s letter P.Kellis V Copt. 17, where he is greeted together with Hatres as a ‘son’. Finally, there is the appearance of a certain Horos as an important addressee in several letters of Pekysis (P.Kellis VII Copt. 76, 78, 79). Admittedly, the name ‘Horos’ is common in Kellis, but there are to my mind good reasons to identify these two. For one, Pekysis’ letters to Horos also feature Theognostos and Partheni II, who as we have seen have independent links to Tehat and Horion. Secondly, while Pekysis generally does not use elaborate religious cues, the letters addressed to Horos are all furnished with prayers; some quite elaborate (see Chapter 5, Section 3.2). To this we can compare the similarly religious tone in the letters by Horion to Horos. Third, the letters by Pekysis and Horion that address Horos were found together.56 It is probable that they belonged to a separate ‘Horos dossier’. Based on this, the different Horos’ discussed above can be taken as a single figure, Horos I.

The interconnections between Horos I, Tehat/Hatres, Theognostos, and Partheni suggest that they constituted a distinct subgroup within the archive. A possible explanation could well be that we are here dealing with a group of relatives connected to the Pamour family by way of Pekysis’ wife Partheni II, and so a counterpart to Pamour III’s in-laws, the circle of Maria/Makarios.57

1.5 The Petros Circle

Less clearly related to the other circles are the letters from a certain ‘son’ to his ‘mother’, P.Kellis V Copt. 38–41. As the names of both the author and the recipient are intentionally omitted, and as most of the letters mention a certain brother Petros, they were grouped together as the ‘Petros letters’. Another letter, P.Kellis VII Copt. 91, could stem from the same author.58 In addition to ‘mother’, the principal addressee, the son addresses an unnamed ‘brother’ in P.Kellis V Copt. 40, and an unnamed ‘father’ in 38. Other, named ‘brothers’ (Timotheos, Herakles) and ‘fathers’ (Pini, Dios, Ormaouo) also occur. The mother and her associates are located in Kellis, as made explicit in P.Kellis V Copt. 40. The son is probably situated somewhere in the Oasis, as he seems to be not too far away.

The letters mention transactions of produce (especially jujubes) and textile work to be handled by the mother. There are references to other letters being written, sent, and received. Less mundane concerns are also in evidence, as in P.Kellis V Copt. 39, which relates to the search for a magical charm or amulet. Several pieces of evidence led the editors to suggest that Petros and Timotheos could be identified with two monks by those names known from the KAB, and so are likely to have been Manichaean Elect, and, more cautiously, that the son may have been situated in a monastic context.59

The precise relationship of the son/mother to the rest of the house is unknown. Several of the associates named there do not recur elsewhere. However, those names that do can be linked to Partheni II, Theognostos, and Tehat, a link supported by the find spots of these documents. Partheni probably herself appears as ‘Heni’ in P.Kellis V Copt. 38, although the reading is not certain. More firmly established are two rare names, ‘father’ Pini and ‘brother’ Hom: these only occur elsewhere in a group of documents linked to Theognostos, Partheni II and Psais III.60 To these prosopographic links we may add that a discussion of magical charms is found both in Ouales’ letter to Psais III and in Petros letter P.Kellis V Copt. 40. Other indices link the Petros letters to Tehat/Horion. Both Petros himself and ‘brother’ Herakles recur in both circles.61 In P.Kellis V Copt. 41, the son asks his mother to make two headscarfs for him: it is unlikely to be a coincidence that the term for ‘headscarf’ (ⲫⲟⲩⲕⲁⲣⲓ) used here is otherwise only attested in the account P.Kellis V Copt. 48, where a Herakles is involved in the work.

These pieces of evidence, then, provide another indirect link between Tehat and Partheni II/Theognostos, as well as with Psais III. They point to an identification of the ‘mother’ with either Tehat or a woman in her immediate circle, and the ‘son’ with one of the younger associates of the Pamour family. As to their dating, these ties to Psais III, and the identification of Petros and Timotheos with the monks found in the KAB, suggest a date for these letters in the mid-late 360s or perhaps early 370s. Still, the absence of other central actors from the Horion/Tehat circle and the Pamour family remains puzzling, as is the presence of otherwise unknown names such the ‘fathers’ Ormaou and Dios. The question of the precise identities of the ‘mother’ and the ‘son’, and their ties to the Pamour family, has to be left open.

2 The Pamour Family

In the preceding sketch of the main documentary circles, we have identified a few actors who recur in different circles, and proposed some ways the circles interrelated. From this it emerges that all of them can be seen to form part of a single kinship group, centred on the household of Pamour III and Pekysis – an extended ‘Pamour family’. In the rest of this chapter, we shall make this depiction more explicit, and explore the way this kinship group functioned.

First, let us consider whether the Pamour family inhabited the physical space in which their documents were found, i.e. House 3. This question has consequences for the documents’ status as a coherent archive, belonging to a single family group, and to whether the material context is salient for assessing this family. An answer in the negative was initially broached by Gardner, who noted that ‘[t]here would seem to be more textual remains and artefacts than can be accounted for by simple residential context.’62 Instead, he pointed out that House 3 could have functioned as a dumping ground for material collected from elsewhere. Colin A. Hope, on the other hand, suggested an answer in the affirmative:

it is certainly unnecessary to postulate that because of the quantity of material found in House 3 documents from diverse sources at Kellis, possibly houses near to House 3, might have been collected therein preparatory to removal on the abandonment of the area…. Whilst the 150 vessels and more from room 6 might seem surprising, and the number restored to date from the house is in the region of 200, these may also have been accumulated throughout the fourth century and also represent the possessions of various family groups or sub-groups who resided in House 3.63

This is also, to some extent, supported by the evidence of P.Kellis I Gr. 38 (dating 333), a contract found in House 3 that describes a building given to Psais II, located adjacent to the house of his family. The description of this structure fits largely – if not perfectly – with the so-called North Building, the northern part of the House 1–3 complex.64 Furthermore, in her study of the textile industry at Kellis, Gillian E. Bowen pointed to the discovery of weaving equipment and numerous textile fragments as indicating that parts of the block had been used as a weaving workshop, fitting well with the dossier pertaining to Tehat.65 However, in an article from 2011, Lisa Nevett questioned this conclusion, based on an analysis of the structure’s layout. She noted the difficulties in reconciling the finds of archives from multiple households, that of Pamour and that of Tehat, with the archaeology of the site, writing: ‘there is little indication that the house was divided into separate, self-contained units … While it is possible that more than one household may have been resident in the house at once, there is nothing to demonstrate this in the archaeology’.66 But after similarly analysing finds from Karanis, she concluded: ‘Physical boundaries do not appear to have been required to separate co-resident groups. […] Rather, a physical house seems to have operated as an organic whole despite changes in the make-up of the occupying household or households.’67 The layout, then, neither proves nor disproves the hypothesis that the Pamour family inhabited the house. Bowen has recently made a renewed argument for the occupation of the House 3 by the family, based on the prosopography of the texts themselves. She identified four separate archives based on find spots, yet found strong connections between them. Even where she could not establish direct links in style or prosopography, indirect ones were usually found. Based on this, Bowen confidently concluded that ‘the documents found in House 3 belonged to the occupants’.68 Our analysis above can be taken to support this conclusion. The large degree of prosopographic overlap between the circles strongly suggests that they stem from a single group, in turn making it likely that these people owned the physical space of House 3.

Yet, there is seldom a one-to-one relationship between ‘house’ and ‘household’. As Anna L. Boozer notes, ‘the term “house” refers to an architectonic unit, while the term “household” describes a basic unit of economic and social cooperation’.69 A household may own more than one house, and a house may be inhabited by more than one household. Nor is ‘household’ synonymous with ‘family’. In order to understand the relationship between the circles, we need to consider their material in light of wider Roman-Egyptian household organisation. Roger S. Bagnall and Bruce W. Frier’s work on the demography of Roman Egypt, based on census returns, provides a good point of departure.70 As they point out, households in Roman Egypt differed from ‘modern’ (i.e. ‘Western’) ones. A majority of people lived in complex households, consisting either of extended families or of multiple (conjugal) families. Multiple family households, i.e. those where more than one conjugal family lived together, may have made up around 25% of all households.71 The households of such multiple-family units involved, on average, 9.38 members (in the countryside), although high mortality rates caused much change over time. Wedded couples would often live with their parents (extending the family ‘upwards’) and with siblings (extending it ‘horizontally’) for some time after marriage, forming what we may call two-generational multiple families. While their composition varied, Bagnall and Frier highlights one typical form as consisting of brothers who continued to live in their parents’ household after marriage (turning into same-generational multiple families, frérèches, on their parents’ death). Such sibling groups maintained strong bonds, for instance owning property together. Lodgers (ἔνοικοι) and slaves were common, adding another layer of complexity.72

This resonates well with what we can deduce from the House 3 papyri. It is likely that Pamour III and Pekysis continued to live together in the house of their parents after their marriages (when they were not away on business), forming a two-generational, multiple-families unit. A younger brother, Psais III, lived with them and took charge of affairs while Pamour III and Pekysis were in the Valley.73 Close bonds kept the siblings together – economic and religious as well as familial, as we shall see. They housed lodgers, and probably slaves.74 Not least, they maintained close ties to their in-laws. Pamour III’s mother-in-law, Maria I, seems to have moved in with Psais III, and her relatives cooperated with the Pamour/Pekysis circle in the Valley.75 Other members of the familial group were clearly closely tied to the main household; including Tekysis III and Kapiton I, Philammon II and Charis, and the ‘brothers’ Andreas, Ploutogenes III, and Horos II. Some of them may have lived in the house, but due to – among other factors – the frequent movement of people, it is not possible to be sure how many actually did so at any one time.

3 The Family Business

Economic interdependence and cooperation are important aspects of any household. Another way to approach the ties between the circles, then, is to consider the economic cooperation between them. It should come as no surprise that the documentary evidence left by the Pamour family is overwhelmingly concerned with economic activities, the livelihood on which they depended. Their activities were diverse: they included trade in the Nile Valley, transport of goods between Oasis and Valley, and textile production and -sale in the Oasis. We examine each of these below.

As mentioned above, central members of the Pamour family were frequently away from Kellis due to trade interests in the Nile Valley. Already the first generation we have documents from, that of Pamour I and Philammon I, participated in the Oasis – Valley trade, as documented by P.Kellis I Gr. 19 and 66. Pamour I’s son, Psais II, followed in his footsteps, and his sons, Pamour III and Pekysis, followed him in turn. By their time, at least, the family had established a foothold in Aphrodito, where they owned a house. Movement back and forth between Oasis and Valley was regular and involved many members of the community, men and women alike. A rough division may be seen between senior traders, who remained in the Nile Valley, and younger ones, who made shorter stays in order to assist with trade. The length of such a limited stay may be gleaned from P.Kellis I Gr. 73, where a young man named Tryphanes is sent to sell goods for a period of between ten and 20 days, which would constitute an absence of c.26–36 days in total.76 A division of responsibilities between the Pamour brothers can also be discerned. Pamour III was the elder, and the one put in charge after their father left: in P.Kellis VII Copt. 110, father Psais II bids him ‘take care of your brothers who are with you’ (l.44tr). Even after leaving for the Valley, Pamour had some overall responsibilities for settling accounts and disbursing expenses in the Oasis.77 Pekysis, for his part, seems to have had a particular responsibility for textiles. Concerns for wool and dyes recur frequently in his letters. This may in part be explained by him having trained as a weaver, as Pamour III in one letter asks him to cut a garment ‘by your own hand’ (P.Kellis VII Copt. 103, l.21).78

Yet the brunt of their work probably involved selling goods on behalf of their father Psais II and ‘father’ Philammon II. They worked particularly closely with the latter. In one letter, Philammon II remarks concerning Pamour III that: ‘He is with me daily. He is diligent, doing his work well, so much so that I said to him: “As long as you perform your work, nothing I do makes a loss”’ (P.Kellis VII Copt. 82, ll.33–36). At times, at least, their work entailed travel to the big city – more specifically, the ‘twin cities’ of Antinoopolis and Hermopolis Magna. These cities, located right across the Nile from each other, were both regional trade hubs. Hermopolis had an indoors market, a macellum, and Antinoopolis was the starting point of the Via Nova Hadriana, which linked the Nile to the Red Sea trade.79 Pamour III and Pekysis travelled to this area on business, while Makarios and Matthaios were based there for longer periods.80 The brothers’ trips to these larger markets may well be seen in light of the practice among textile merchants in antiquity of employing travelling agents. Such figures are described in an excerpt from Ulpian in the Digest: ‘it has also seemed reasonable to give the name of business-agent to the people to whom clothes-dealers and linen-merchants give clothing to be carried round and disposed of – the people that we colloquially call travelling vendors [circitores]’.81 This strategy may have helped small-scale merchants such as the Pamours diversify their markets.

As regards the goods they carried, these were not limited to textiles. The family sold jujubes in the Valley, as mentioned by Pamour III in P.Kellis VII Copt. 64. A wider range can be inferred from P.Kellis I Gr. 51, admittedly not pertaining directly to the Pamour family, which mentions (among other goods) dried figs, dried grapes, and fine linens being carried to the Valley on a single trip. Bagnall has further proposed that olives played an important role in the Oasis – Valley trade.82 It sems that, rather than relying on one commodity alone, the traders provided a selection of ‘Oasis specialties.’ As Jennifer Cromwell has rightly pointed out, it would have given them a larger set of economic strategies to draw on.83

Before trade could commence, goods and traders had to cross the distance between Dakhleh and the Valley. The most common way to travel was by camel, better suited than donkeys or horses for long hauls in the desert, if also more expensive to buy and maintain.84 The term ⲃⲁⲣⲱϩ was used for caravan animals, mostly camels, but also with reference to their drivers who were paid freight wages (ϩⲏⲙⲉ).85 Trust was another important currency, and concerns for the reliability of one’s agent is expressed in several letters.86 One way to secure trustworthiness was to employ relatives. Members of the Pamour family, such as Philammon II, Pamour III, Pekysis, and their brother-in-law Kapiton I, often brought items with them across the desert. Yet freight was not only undertaken on behalf of the immediate family. In P.Kellis I Gr. 79, Philammon (probably II) is titled ‘camel driver’ (δροµεδάριος), and several documents indicate that Psais II undertook paid freight work.87 This would have provided another source of income to supplement their trading activities, although it should be stressed that the documented instances of freight are all conducted within the context of a shared network of affiliates.88 They themselves paid close social connections, such as the ‘son’ Lammon and the ‘brother’ Papnouthes, for freight.89 Numerous other ‘familial’ agents are found carrying goods on their behalf, such as ‘father’ Pishai, ‘our son’ Timotheos, and ‘our brother’ Plousiane.90

Back in Kellis, the most important economic activity by far evinced by the documents is the production of textiles. The material evidence from the House 1–3 complex is also abundant. Weaving equipment was found in House 1–3, including wall fittings for two looms in House 1, a warping frame in House 2, and a carefully patched piece of decorated textile, exhibiting high quality workmanship, from House 3.91 The family, then, probably ran a local textile workshop.92 The documents certainly point in this direction. Several family members, mostly women and younger men, participated in organising weaving. Of the men, Psais III and ‘brother’ Theognostos played important roles, being tasked with engaging and paying weavers and storing and distributing materials on behalf of their associates in the Nile Valley. Psais III, in particular, is frequently addressed by Pamour III and Pekysis. He appears to have had a special responsibility for financial matters in the Oasis, in the absence of Pamour III.93 Theognostos, for his part, is never directly addressed by Pamour III or Pekysis, although they frequently greet him. It is two letters to him from Philammon II, P.Kellis VII Copt. 80 and 81, which reveal that he, too, had responsibilities for managing production of clothes. Much of the actual textile work fell to the women. In the Pamour/Pekysis circle, Partheni II and Tekysis III are both tasked with weaving and sending garments to the Valley. However, they were also involved on the financial side of things, as well as taking care of other family affairs. Tekysis is requested to provide money and settle payments on several occasions,94 while a letter addressed to Partheni, P.Kellis VII Copt. 95, mentions several payments that she is involved in, some relating to work at ‘Hat’s place’ – the workshop of Tehat.

The most detailed information on textile production comes from Tehat’s dossier. From the letters of Horion, we learn that her work entailed dyeing materials, spinning weft, and cutting garments, for which she charged ‘weaving wage’ (ⲃⲉⲕⲉ ⲥⲱϩⲉ). She also sold finished garments and organised their freight. Her ‘staff’ included male co-workers, such as Hatres and Herakles, as well as a group of weavers.95 There are good reasons to identify Tehat as the author of most, if not all, of the Coptic accounts P.Kellis V Copt. 44–48.96 These accounts are more akin to reports, reporting on sales, expenditures, and the ongoing textile work of Tehat and her associates to an unnamed, male co-worker. He was apparently responsible for supervising the work, but was not a very distant figure, as Tehat asks him to help with weaving and indicate shared financial responsibilities. The group of weavers paid for work include Partheni, Kame, and Lo, all of whom can be identified with members of the Pamour family.

Among the expenditures in the account P.Kellis V Copt. 44 are payments of wages (ⲃⲉⲕⲉ) for Pamour (III?) and of freight wages (ϩⲏⲙⲉ) for Psais (II) son of Pamour (I). This raises questions concerning how work was organised and burdens shared between the workshop and the traders. Unfortunately, their relationship remains rather obscure. Perhaps, to venture a hypothesis, we can discern a cooperation between two originally separate kinship groups: one focused on the Nile Valley trade and led by Psais II/Philammon II, the other oriented towards textile production and led by Tehat/Horos I. The two were, at some point, united by the marriage of Pekysis and Partheni II. At any rate, the archive shows that kinship relations played a big part in structuring economic activities. Trade in the Valley, camel driving in the desert, and textile production in Kellis were interconnected activities that involved not only the households of the Pamour brothers, but the whole extended family, and others besides.

4 Conclusions

In the course of this chapter, we have considered key actors in the House 3 circles, and the way these were linked together. From the above analysis it emerges that the large majority of documentary material can be related to one extended family group, divided into three main social circles: the Maria/Makarios circle (documents dating late 350s), the Pamour/Pekysis circle (early–mid 360s), the Psais/Andreas circle (late 360s–370s), centred on the multiple-family group of the brothers Pamour III and Pekysis and collectively referred to as the Pamour family. The circle of Tehat/Horion, although somewhat distinct from the others in terms of prosopography, also had familial ties to the Pamour family, perhaps by way of the marriage of Pekysis and Partheni II. Finally, the Petros circle remains difficult to place due to the anonymity of writer and recipient; yet, they had many associates in common with all these circles, especially with Horion/Tehat and Psais/Andreas. It seems that both the Horion/Tehat and the Petros circle can be added to the extended Pamour family. Parts of this extended family made use of the houses in which the texts were found, until around the last decade of the fourth century. Not least, they were all connected by strong economic interests and cooperations. To this it should be added that they also had regular and close interaction with several groups that were not part of the extended family group. It is to these that we turn in the next chapter.


For the following description, and discussions of the finds, see Colin A. Hope and Gillian E. Bowen, ‘The Archaeological Context’, in Coptic Documentary Texts from Kellis. Vol 1., ed. Iain Gardner, Anthony Alcock, and Wolf-P. Funk (Oxford: Oxbow, 1999); Lisa Nevett, ‘Family and Household, Ancient History and Archaeology: A Case Study from Roman Egypt’, in A Companion to Families in the Greek and Roman Worlds, ed. Beryl Rawson (Blackwell, 2011); Gillian E. Bowen, ‘The Environment Within: The Archaeological Context of the Texts from House 3 at Kellis in Egypt’s Dakhleh Oasis’, in Housing and Habitat in the Ancient Mediterranean: Cultural and Environmental Responses, ed. A. A. Di Castro and Colin A. Hope (Leuven: Peeters Publishers, 2015); and Hope, ‘Roman-Period Houses’.


Any ‘ideological influence’ on the house lay-out seems unlikely. Boozer noted, regarding the absence of kitchens in House 2, that: ‘There is some reason to believe that the Manichees may have had a prohibition on cooking inside houses. It seems that Manicheans may have lived in the Kellis 1–3 houses, and this may explain, in part, the location of the food preparation areas outside of the house.’ Anna L. Boozer, Amheida II. A Late Romano-Egyptian House in the Dakhla Oasis: Amheida House B2 (New York: New York University Press, 2015), Ch. 6, n.143. However, such prohibitions only pertained to the Elect, who are unlikely to have been the primary users of House 1–3.


Most strikingly, a Manichaean codex, P.Kellis VI Gr. 97, was found in pieces scattered between House 1, the North Building, and House 3. See Hope and Bowen, ‘The Archaeological Context’, 108; P.Kellis VI, 94–97.


See P.Kellis I, 28 and 51.


Worp listed 25 (out of 72) documents from House 3 that could not be explained by the assumption ‘that documents found in House 3 were addressed/related to people living there’. Ibid., 52. In several instances, however, he does note possible ties between these unaffiliated letters and the presumed inhabitants.


P.Kellis V, 21–50.


Ibid., 11, 55–58.


P.Kellis VII Copt. 58 (Tehat/Horion), 59 (Psais/Andreas), and 60 (Petros). Of the latter two, only the incipits remain. Some material from House 3 is still unpublished, but most of it is very fragmentary. P.Kellis VII, 259–62.


Ibid., 40–41.


See the discussion below.


Worp and R. P. Salomons have published a compilation of names from the Oasis, but without attempting a prosopography. Klaas A. Worp and R. P. Salomons, ‘Onomasticon Oasiticum: An Onomasticon’ (2009).


For the usage (and difficulty of evaluating the significance) of kinship terms in Greek papyri up until the fourth century, see Eleanor Dickey, ‘Literal and Extended Use of Kinship Terms in Documentary Papyri’, Mnemosyne 57, no. 2 (2004). For the Kellis material more specifically, see Iain Gardner, ‘Some Comments on Kinship Terms in the Coptic Documentary Papyri from Ismant el-Kharab’, in The Oasis Papers 2: Proceedings from the Second International Conference of the Dakhleh Oasis Project, ed. Marcia F. Wiseman (Oxford: Oxbow, 2008).


P.Kellis I Gr. 66, written by Pamour I, and, less certainly, P.Kellis I Gr. 65, by Philammon (I?). The latter is written by a Philammon addressing a Tekysis, taken by Worp to be Philammon I writing his biological sister and Pamour I’s wife, Tekysis I (P.Kellis I, 51, 174). However, it may also belong to a later generation, as tentatively proposed in P.Kellis V, 21. Worp compares it to a letter of Philammon from the Coptic material with similar concerns for financial loss. This letter has now been published as P.Kellis VII Copt. 81: it clearly dates to the mid-fourth century, and is authored by Philammon II, who was also a contemporary of at least two women named Tekysis (II and III, see n.20, below).


See P.Kellis I Gr. 32 and 42. Perhaps their apparent absence from a list of prominent Kellites dated 352, P.Kellis I Gr. 24, could be taken to indicate that they were already on the move by this time, twelve years prior.


See P.Kellis I, 51; P.Kellis VII, 40, 46; but cf. 67.


See perhaps also P.Kellis I Gr. 38, dated 333, which mentions a son of Psais II.


P.Kellis I, 90. For the other actors by the name Horos in the House 3 circles (Horos I and II), see the sections on the Psais/Andreas circle and on the Horion/Tehat circle, below.


Lewis comments: ‘Horos’ family had ties of long standing with the Valley … It is not hard to imagine that Oasis families with such Valley connections might be dubbed “Egyptians” by their neighbours, thus expressing, I suspect, much the same combination of envy and disdain with which some people used to speak (or still speak?) of “city folk”.’ Lewis, ‘Notationes legentis’, 29–30. While plausible, it does not explain why the nickname appears in a document drafted in the Valley. Perhaps the disdain was rather that of the villagers in Aphrodito towards ‘Oasites’ – newcomers who were trying to become ‘Egyptian’.


She is often identified by the hypocoristic Heni; see P.Kellis VII, 142. There were in fact two persons of this name: a ‘mother’ Partheni (I) (P.Kellis V Copt. 19, 47?) and a ‘sister’ Heni/Partheni (II) (e.g. P.Kellis V Copt. 25). The latter is Pekysis’ wife, and most instances of Partheni/Heni probably relate to her.


There seems to have been three Tekysis’; Tekysis I, wife of Pamour I; ‘mother’ Tekysis II; and Tekysis III, daughter of Psais II. It is possible that the former two should be identified. Most instances of the name probably relate to Tekysis III. For her marriage to Kapiton I, see P.Kellis VII Copt. 75, P.Kellis I Gr. 76.


Given the late date, it is likely that Kapiton (I) had left. For him, see Kapiton son of Korax in P.Kellis I Gr. 24.


These include P.Kellis VII Copt. 64–66, 71, 77, P.Kellis I Gr. 71, perhaps P.Kellis V Copt. 42 and P.Kellis VII Copt. 115, as well as P.Kellis I Gr. 72 and 73.


Primarily the letters P.Kellis VII Copt. 72 and 103. One might add that her presence or absence is unclear in some presumed Pamour III-letters: P.Kellis VII Copt. 67, 68, and 70. The authorship of P.Kellis VII Copt. 70 is, however, unclear, while P.Kellis VII Copt. 67 and 68 are very lacunose (it is possible that Maria’s postscript is in fact partly preserved in the former). See P.Kellis VII, 60.


For Pamour as the main object of consolation, see ibid., 123.


It may be that Maria II herself mentions having fallen sick in one of Pamour III’s letters, although the writer of this part of the letter could also be Pamour. See P.Kellis VII Copt. 71, but cf. 72.


Naphtali Lewis, ‘Notationes legentis’, in Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists 34, no. 1–4 (1997).


In theory, men may have become liable to liturgies already at the age they became liable to the poll-tax, i.e. at 14, but the youngest liturgists hitherto documented in the papyri range between 18–20 years, and the vast majority are older. See Lewis, Compulsory Public Services, 72 n.46. Assuming this also held true for Horos, it would put at least 5 years between P.Kellis I Gr. 30 and 72, placing the latter at the earliest c.368.


Although as the wife remains unnamed in both P.Kellis I Gr. 30 and 72, we cannot say for certain which wife – the one pre or the one post-363 – would be Maria II. A third possibility, that Maria II was not Pamour III’s wife at all (but, for instance, his biological sister), appears much less likely.


The editors qualify this, writing: ‘it is certainly conceivable that Makarios and Pamour might both write to Kellis at approximately the same time, and still give the impression of this generational “shift” because they are addressing different contemporaries. Thus, when we speak of generations we do not necessarily imply (say) a twenty year gap between such. In the above example, there are a number of factors that lead us to a notional date for the Makarios family letters ca. the latter 350s.; and for Pamour ten to fifteen years later.’ P.Kellis V, 11.


P.Kellis V Copt. 20–22, 24 (Makarios); 25–26 (Matthaios); 29 (Piene). She is also addressed in Makarios’ letter P.Kellis V Copt. 19, where Matthaios is the primary recipient. Several other letters (P.Kellis V Copt. 23, 27, 28, 52) were likely addressed to her – or at least products of the same writers – but are too fragmented to be explored.


Certainly in the letters P.Kellis V Copt. 24 and 25, but probably also in P.Kellis V Copt. 20, 22, and 26, where Pamour and Philammon occur travelling together to/from the Nile Valley. An identification of Pamour III in the latter three instances is doubted by the editors (P.Kellis V, 36), but it is noteworthy that Pamour is not greeted with the people in Kellis in the three letters that also place a Pamour in the Nile Valley, while he is in the former two – although the greetings in P.Kellis V Copt. 26 admittedly break off at the point where his name may have occurred. Note also the close ties of Pamour III and Philammon II evinced in the letters (e.g. P.Kellis VII Copt. 82).


See P.Kellis VII, 40–41.


Ploutogenes/Piene features in various forms in the other letters, including ‘Gena’, ‘Iena’, ‘Iene’, and ‘Piena’. While the editors do not identify him with any of these other figures, it is evident that the name belongs to this name-family. See P.Kellis VII, 143–44.


P.Kellis V, 185.


Argued by e.g. Baker-Brian, ‘Mass and Elite’, 180–81. See Chapter 8, Section 3.2.


Another letter to Psais and Andreas, probably authored by Ouales, appeared in P.Kellis VII as P.Kellis VII Copt. 59, but only fragments are preserved.


Hor is reconstructed, but is a likely fit, considering both the lacuna size and the texts adduced below.


P.Kellis VII Copt. 105, 111, 115, 118, and P.Kellis I Gr. 75. Arguments for relating these to Psais III are found in the editors’ commentary to the respective texts, and see also P.Kellis VII, 144. Not every brother occurs in every letter, and in P.Kellis VII Copt. 115 a ‘child’ named Maria (III?) occurs alongside Piena and Hor. Still, there are other recurring figures and topics that serve to tie these letters together.


Specifically, in letters P.Kellis VII Copt. 88, 89, and 91. For a sustained discussion, see Teigen, ‘Limbs’, 83–88.


P.Kellis V, 57–58.


See especially P.Kellis VII Copt. 105 and 115, and the occurrence of many Pamour associates in the above-mentioned Ploutogenes letters (n.39).


See P.Kellis V Copt. 37, and P.Kellis VII Copt. 105, as well as many of the Pamour letters.


See the afore-mentioned P.Kellis V Copt. 36, but also P.Kellis VII Copt. 73 and 111.


P.Kellis V, 11.


The editors changed their spelling to Orion in P.Kellis VII, but without providing an explanation; see P.Kellis VII, 20. I have therefore continued the usage of ‘Horion’ found in P.Kellis V.


The context is fragmentary. Worp first read Θατµε̣[… µετ ὰ τῶν] υἱῶν αὐτῆς, but noted that he had not found a name ‘Thatme[…]’ to be previously attested (P.Kellis I, 38). I here follow Bagnall, who reads Θατ µε̣[τ ὰ τῶν] υἱῶν αὐτῆς (P.Kellis IV, 66 n.28). A link between Tithoes/Samoun and Tehat is strengthened by recurrence of the names Tapsais, Tbeke, and Tithoes in both circles, see Chapter 4, Section 1.


Perhaps Iena (i.e. Ploutogenes) could be identified with Ploutogenes son of Pataias, found in documents from House 2. This would make Tehat the daughter of a neighbour of the Pamour family with long-standing interests in textiles. Another possibility is Ploutogenes son of Ouonsis, komarch in 353. This supposition receives support from the still-visible remains of the name ‘Ploutogenes son of Ouonsis’ in a letter reused for the account P.Kellis V Copt. 47, probably authored by Tehat. Perhaps Tehat was reusing her father’s papyrus: her preserving his documents could explain the presence of other documents of Ploutogenes son of Ouonsis in House 1–3 (P.Kellis I Gr. 18, 23, 24). However, these can only be suggestions, in lieu of further evidence.


For the suggestion ‘Psenpsais’, see P.Kellis V, 252. Read perhaps ϫ ̣[]ϣⲁ̣ⲓ̣ in P.Kellis V Copt. 43 (ll.1–2)? Other Egyptian names in Tehat’s writings often lack the initial .


Regarding this term, the editors write: ‘The term can also mean a district or nome. We suppose that it means the entry-point to the Oasis, where there would be official and military control.’ P.Kellis VII, 164.


Ibid., 276.


See a greeting to ‘son’ Hatres in P.Kellis V Copt. 17, and perhaps the reference to ‘their father Hor’ in Tehat’s P.Kellis V Copt. 43 (l.30) – the latter unfortunately in a highly fragmented context.


Not least, Horion mentions ‘my father’ in P.Kellis V Copt. 15 (l.10).


This includes Tehat’s Coptic accounts (dating 355–73), her contact Timotheos son of Tiberios (for whom, see P.Kellis I Gr. 3, mid-350s), as well as her appearance in the KAB (361–64) and in the letter of Samoun (360s).


P.Kellis V, 140.


The editors suggest that they were siblings; see P.Kellis VII, 135.


Horion’s P.Kellis V Copt. 17 and Pekysis’ P.Kellis VII Copt. 78 and 79 were all found in Room 11; Horion’s P.Kellis V Copt. 15 and 16, and Pekysis’ P.Kellis VII Copt. 76 in Room 9.


For this argument, see Teigen, ‘Limbs’, 91–94.


Although this is uncertain; see P.Kellis VII, 163.


See P.Kellis V, 235, and the arguments in Chapter 9, Section 3.3.


For ‘brother’ Hom, P.Kellis V Copt. 45, P.Kellis VII Copt. 84; for ‘father’ Pini, P.Kellis VII Copt. 73, 83, and 105.


For Petros, see P.Kellis V Copt. 18; for Herakles, P.Kellis V Copt. 48, P.Kellis VII Copt. 58, and P.Kellis I Gr. 14.


P.Kellis II, ix.


Hope and Bowen, ‘The Archaeological Context’, 115–16.


See Worp’s discussion in P.Kellis I, 109.


Hope and Bowen, ‘The Archaeological Context’, 116; Bowen, ‘Textiles, Basketry and Leather: Goods from Ismant el-Kharab’, in Dakhleh Oasis Project: Preliminary Reports on the 1994–1995 to 1998–1999 Field Seasons, ed. Colin A. Hope and Gillian E. Bowen (Oxford: Oxbow, 2002, 97.


Nevett, ‘Family and Household’, 23.


Ibid., 29.


Bowen, ‘The Environment Within’, 240.


Anna L. Boozer, ‘Towards an Archaeology of Household Relationships in Roman Egypt’, in Mediterranean Families in Antiquity: Households, Extended Families, and Domestic Space, ed. S. R. Huebner and G. Nathan (Wiley-Blackwell, 2017), 176. This distinction was less explicit in antiquity, as the ambiguity of Gr. οἶκος and Copt. ⲏⲓ indicate.


Roger S. Bagnall and Bruce W. Frier, The Demography of Roman Egypt (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994). The only census documents from Kellis stem from the second century, and pertain to a single conjugal family at a much earlier period; the family of Tithoes and Talaeis, registered in Mesobe, but living in Kellis with two daughters (who, incidentally, were spinners) and a female slave. Bagnall, Hope, and Worp, ‘Family Papers’.


For villages, they estimate c.15.8% solidary, 4.2% without family, 36% conjugal families, 17.9% extended families, and 25.3% multiple families. Bagnall and Frier, Demography, 67.


Ibid., 62–68.


A similar situation can be gleaned in P.Kellis I Gr. 13, an inheritance contract where three brothers divided up a single house, together with an unrelated couple. See also Hope, ‘Roman-Period Houses’, 226.


Pamour leased out a room in a house in 369 per P.Kellis I Gr. 33. For slaves, see P.Kellis I Gr. 19 (c.299) for the earlier generation, and note perhaps the request for a ‘girl’ in P.Kellis VII Copt. 64.


P.Kellis VII, 40.


Taking travel time to be eight days each way, and on the assumption that he went back to the Oasis afterwards. For this estimate, see Chapter 2, Section 2 and n.13.


See P.Kellis VII Copt. 64 and 72. For the former, note the comments in P.Kellis VII, 46.


Pekysis’ textile concerns are in evidence in nearly all his letters. For the authorship of P.Kellis VII Copt. 103, see the discussion in P.Kellis VII, 196.


Although less important in the fourth century than previously, see Andrew Wilson and Alan K. Bowman, ‘Introduction: Trade, commerce and the state’, in Quantifying the Roman Economy: Methods and Problems, ed. A. Wilson and A. K. Bowman (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), 15. For a macellum in Hermopolis, documented for the late third century, see Alston, ‘Trade and the City’, 285.


For Pamour III’s and Pekysis’ activities, see, respectively, P.Kellis V Copt. 25 and P.Kellis I Gr. 71.


Ulp. Dig.–5, citation and translation in Horden and Purcell, The Corrupting Sea, 359–60.


Bagnall and Aravecchia, ‘Economy and Society’, 156.


Jennifer Cromwell, ‘Domestic Textile Production in Dakhleh Oasis in the Fourth Century AD’, in Egyptian Textiles and their Production: ‘Word’ and ‘Object’, ed. Maria Mossakowska-Gaubert (Lincoln, NE: Zea Books, 2020), 145–46 n.4. Cromwell sees textiles as of little import to the traders, suggesting that garments were mainly produced for internal consumption and that olives was the primary commodity. This is to my mind less plausible in light of the letters’ overwhelming preoccupation with textile production and materials (below). Olive transactions found in the documents are largely restricted to the Oasis.


Adams, Land Transport, 88, 106. Perhaps caravans at times used wagons: wagons for cross-desert transport is attested in papyri from the eastern desert, and a contract for a loan to purchase a large wagon (µαξα) was found in House 3, P.Kellis I Gr. 46. See Roger S. Bagnall, ‘The Camel, the Wagon, and the Donkey in Later Roman Egypt’, Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists 22, no. 1 (1985); and Adams, Land Transport, 66–67.


A camel (ϭ ⲁⲙⲟⲩⲗ) occurs in P.Kellis V Copt. 50. For ⲃⲁϩⲱⲣ, see the discussions in P.Kellis V, 62–63, 172; P.Kellis VII, 75, 167. The human driver is clearly intended in for instance P.Kellis V Copt. 20 (l.54).


Philammon (I or II) asks for a ‘trustworthy fellow’ (πιστοῦ ἀνθρώπου) to bring him money in P.Kellis I Gr. 65 (ll.24–25), Horion for ‘an honest man’ (ⲟⲩⲣⲙⲙ̄ⲙⲓⲉ) to bring clothes in P.Kellis VII Copt. 58 (l.30), while a certain Timotheos spends most of P.Kellis VII Copt. 92 answering an accusation that he has been negligent during freight.


See P.Kellis V Copt. 44, which mentions a payment of 950 T. to Psais II son of Pamour I for freight, and P.Kellis I Gr. 50, a receipt for freight issued by Psais Tryphanes. To these we can add that a Psais brought two garments to Makarios in P.Kellis V Copt. 19, he may be identifiable with Psais II; similarly, in P.Kellis I Gr. 66, Pamour I mentions a Psais who is to be paid for freight of two camel loads; it may be that this is his son, Psais II. Several other documents indicate an engagement with freight, e.g. P.Kellis I Gr. 27, 29, and 77.


Makarios in P.Kellis V Copt. 19, Tehat in P.Kellis V Copt. 44, and Psais Tryphanes in P.Kellis I Gr. 50. See further Chapter 4, Section 5.


Pekysis refer to payments for freight of wool to the Oasis in several letters (P.Kellis VII Copt. 75, 78, 79, 96), for four agents: Pane, Lammon, Papnouthes, and Andreas. Of these, only Pane is not known from elsewhere.


For Timotheos, see P.Kellis V Copt. 17; for Pishai, P.Kellis V Copt. 25 and 26; and for Plousiane, P.Kellis VII Copt. 80 and 92.


Bowen, ‘Textiles, Basketry and Leather’, 93, 97.


For such workshops, see Kerstin Dross-Krüpe, ‘How (Not) to Organise Roman Textile Production’, in Egyptian Textiles and their Production: “Word” and “Object”, ed. Maria Mossakowa-Gaubert (Lincoln, NE: Zea Books, 2020), 138; Gibbs, ‘Manufacture’, 42–43.


Ibid., 199–200. Psais is often involved in monetary transactions; see P.Kellis VII Copt. 64, 72, 102, 105, 108.


P.Kellis VII Copt. 75, 78, 120.


See e.g. P.Kellis V Copt. 18, where Horion asks Tehat/Hatres to make their associates ‘weave a cowl’ (ll.20–21).


See P.Kellis V, 253, 257.

  • Collapse
  • Expand