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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.

More information about how we have ‘runified’ this site


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  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Ostracon, fragment of the body of a red-brown ribbed pottery vessel, fabric is black in section, interior covered with a dark-brown resinous deposit, exterior covered with a red-brown slip and remains of eleven lines of Coptic text written in black ink, containing part of a letter.

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 6thC-8thC
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 172 millimetres (max)
    • Width: 189 millimetres (max)
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

      • Inscription Position

      • Inscription Language

      • Inscription Transliteration

        Remains of eleven lines of thickly Coptic text written in black ink.
      • Inscription Translation

        Translation by W.E. Crum: "Before all things I greet you. Be so kind, send a little wine out to the shepherds. For we gave them the 2 small 'hots' and they said, We want 3 a day. Come out and satisfy them. And bring 2 'maje' of dates for them. Give it to Apa Enoch, from papa Isaac. Do not delay to come [out], for they have been idle."
  • Bibliography

    • Crum & Bell 1922 p.98 bibliographic details
  • Condition

    fair (parts of the interior have flaked away - two pieces joined)

  • Conservation

    See treatments 

    Treatment date

    10 March 2006

    Treatment proposal

    stabilise as necessary


    Objects fragile/ flaky/ crumbling, some with detached fragments.

    Treatment details

    Consolidated object as necessary using a variety of concentrations of Paraloid B72 (ethyl methacrylate copolymer) in Acetone (propan-1-one/dimethyl ketone), applied by pipette or micropipette. Reattached detached fragments using HMG Paraloid B72 (methyl ethyl methacrlylate) if necessary. Filled gaps with paste made from PB72, glassmicrospheres and acetone if necessary.

    About these records 

  • 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 106 (text edition abbreviation according to Oates et al 2001)


If you’ve noticed a mistake or have any further information about this object, please email: collectiondatabase@britishmuseum.org 

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Object reference number: YCA59166

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