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To celebrate Vikings Live, we have replaced our Roman alphabet with the runic alphabet used by the Vikings, the Scandinavian ‘Younger Futhark’. The ‘Younger Futhark’ has only 16 letters, so we have used some of the runic letters more than once or combined two runes for one Roman letter.

For an excellent introduction to runes, we recommend Martin Findell’s book published by British Museum Press.

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  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Ostracon, large section (five fragments joined) of the body of a light-brown pottery vessel, the fabric is partially grey in section, the exterior, grooved in a number of places and with two lines of cord-marked decoration, is covered with a red-brown slip and remains of fourteen lines of Coptic text written in black ink, consisting of a contract for work and wages.


  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 6thC-8thC
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 179 millimetres (max)
    • Width: 214 millimetres (max)
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

      • Inscription Position

      • Inscription Language

      • Inscription Transliteration

        Remains of fourteen lines of Coptic text written in black ink, worn and faded in parts.
      • Inscription Translation

        Translation by W.E. Crum: "The council of the holy monastery [of Apa] Thomas, through the pious father, Apa E[ ], the agent, writes to Psynhor, the salt-dealer, (saying,) [Every] month which he passes bringing 3 . . . . . [of. .] . . daily, we will pay him his wage, [name]ly, each month, 3 'artabae' of [ma]aje of fodder, a 'lakoote' of wine [ ] we will feed him therewith, a 'maa[je' ] . . . . . of pickle, a cloak [ , ] a single (shoe) sole. You too, for your part, shall do your work without any neglect, throughout the year; and we, for ours, will pay you your wage. Written month Payni 25th. (Wages) making 1 'solidus'." [Note by J. Cromwell: 'solidus' is rendered as 'nomisma' in the text.]
  • Bibliography

    • Till 1956 no.15 bibliographic details
    • Crum & Bell 1922 p.134-135 bibliographic details
  • Condition

    fair (five fragments joined)

  • Associated names

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Acquisition notes

    Excavated 1913-1914 by Reginald Campbell Thompson on behalf of the Byzantine Research Fund.

  • Department

    Ancient Egypt & Sudan

  • BM/Big number


  • Registration number


  • Additional IDs

    • O.Sarga 164 (text edition abbreviation according to Oates et al 2001)


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Object reference number: YCA60768

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