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Ostraka, pieces of broken pottery vessels, were used for writing a variety of different texts, most often tax receipts. They were used instead of the more expensive papyrus. Most ostraka come from Upper Egypt and the oases, where, unlike in Fayum and the localities of Middle Egypt, papyrus was not cultivated on a broad scale.

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Bilingual: Greek/Demotic. Receipt for grain tax payment.
Date: June 6, 153 BC or June 4, 142 BC.
“In the 28th year, on the tenth day [of the month of] Pachon. Paleuis son of Paraus delivered to the granary at Apollonopolis, [as payment] for the same year, for the lower regions [that is, lying in the lower course of the river, that is in the north], 21 ¼ artabas of wheat, that is, 21 ¼ artabas of wheat. Second hand: Kastor”
Demotic text:
“In the 28th year, on the tenth day [of the month of] Pachon. Paleuis son of... Delivered to the granary at Apollonopolis, [as] payment for taxes for the same year, for the northern regions 21 ¼ atrabas of wheat, that is, 21 ¼ artabas of wheat.
Written by... son...”
Commentary: Year 28 refers to the rule of Ptolemy VI Philometor (181/180-145 BC) or Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II, who counted his regnal years from 170/169 BC.
Ostraka, pieces of broken pottery vessels, were used for writing a variety of different texts, most often tax receipts. They were used instead of the more expensive papyrus. Most ostraka come from Upper Egypt and the oases, where, unlike in Fayum and the localities of Middle Egypt, papyrus was not cultivated on a broad scale.
 
Elaborated by Krzysztof Babraj (Archaeological Museum in Kraków), editorial team of Małopolska’s Virtual Museums, translated by Iwona Zych, © all rights reserved
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Greek ostrakon – receipt for grain tax payment

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