More on Cache of demotic ostraca found at Fayoum

Date:

Share post:

Broken pieces of clay pottery have revealed the names of dozens of Egyptian priests who served at the temple of a crocodile god, Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) announced.

Ostraca unearthed at the Soknopaios temple in Soknopaiou Nesos, Egypt Engraved with text dating back to the Roman period, the small potsherds have been found by Italian archaeologists on the west side of the temple dedicated to the crocodile god Soknopaios in Soknopaiou Nesos, an Egyptian village in the Fayoum oasis.

Called ostraca from the Greek word ostrakon (meaning “shell”) the inscribed pot fragments “have been very helpful in illuminating the religious practices and the prosopography of Greco-Roman Egypt,” the SCA said in a statement.

“We found some 150 ostraca. The majority was inscribed with the names of the priests who served at the temple,” Mario Capasso, professor of Papyrology at Salento University, told Discovery News.

“A recurring name is that of a priest named Satabous,” Capasso said.

According to Capasso, who co-directed the excavation with Paola Davoli, associate professor of Egyptology at Salento University, each ostracon was used in a sort of ballot draw to determine specific religious roles in the temple.

Ruins of the Soknopaios temple in Soknopaiou Nesos, Egypt.“The ostraca help our understanding of the mechanism of role assignments in the Soknopaios priesthood during the Roman period. Basically, the priest whose name was written on the drawn ostracon was destined to cover a specific religious role,” Capasso said.

Founded by the Ptolemaic king Ptolemy II Philadelphus (309 B.C.–246 B.C.) around 250 B.C., Soknopaiou Nesos, “the island of Soknopaios,” is well known to scholars for the amount of papyri and other inscribed material found among its ruins.

Inhabited for about five centuries, the site reached its peak during the first and second century AD thanks to a major trade route. It was abandoned during the mid-third century AD.

The ostraca, which are basically one of the temple’s archives, were originally kept in a storeroom situated in a courtyard in front of the Soknopaios temple.

“Most likely, they were thrown out of the building during a clandestine excavation at the end of the 19th century,” Capasso said.


Author: Rossella Lorenzi | Source: Discovery News [December 28, 2010]


ADVERTISEMENT

spot_img

Related articles

Extensive variation revealed in 1,001 genomes and epigenomes of Arabidopsis

An international team of scientists has sequenced the whole genomes and epigenomes of more than 1,000 Arabidopsis thaliana...

Sharpest map of Mars surface properties created

A heat-sensing camera designed at Arizona State University has provided data to create the most detailed global map...

Mutations in mantled howler provoked by disturbances in habitat

The disturbances of the habitat could be affecting the populations of the mantled howler, or golden-mantled howling monkey,...

New steps recommended to preserve China’s famous Terracotta Warriors and other relics

The preservation of immovable historic relics displayed in large open spaces like China’s world-renowned Museum of Qin Terracotta...

Researchers identify 300 million year-old ‘Tully Monster’ was a vertebrate

A 300-million-year-old fossil mystery has been solved by a research team led by the University of Leicester, which...

Jaw mechanics of a shell-crushing Jurassic fish revealed

The feeding habits of an unusual 200-million-year-old fish have been uncovered by a University of Bristol undergraduate in...

19th century marker used to measure Earth found in Rome

Italian researchers have unearthed a marble benchmark which was once used to measure the shape of Earth in...

NY court rules: Chimps don’t have same rights as humans

"A chimpanzee is not entitled to the rights of a human and does not have to be freed...