The Qurra Papyrus - An Admonition Addressed To Basil About His Duties & Instruction To Come To Headquarters - Egyptian National Library Inv. No. 341, 91 AH / 710 CE

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Assalamu ʿalaykum wa rahamatullahi wa barakatuhu:

Figure: (left) Picture of the papyrus and (right) its contents.

[] encloses letters supplied to fill a lacuna.


Shawwāl, 91 AH / August 710 CE.


74.7 cm. x 21.1 cm.

It is a light brown, fine papyrus. The letter is written by a scribe called ʿUmair in black ink on recto, verso is blank; diacritical points are but sparingly added. Words are freely divided at the end of a line. Three selis-joints are visible. On the folded margin, below the text, a clay seal was originally affixed which unfortunately has disappeared.

Accession No.

Inv. No. 341.


The translation of the document is:

  1. [] what has been brought together
  2. of these articles. But verily
  3. if I find with thee what I should like to find respecting re-
  4. gular remittance and satisfactory consignment, I shall do good unto thee
  5. and do thee favour and strengthen
  6. for thee thy business and thy administration, and I ho-
  7. pe, God willing, that it may be so.
  8. But if I find thy administration otherwise, then
  9. - as the man is only rewarded acoording to his works - blame
  10. only thyself. Do not remain in arrears after (the date) which
  11. I have named, and I do not wish to learn
  12. of thy insufficiency or unpunctuality nor that thou comest
  13. to me leaving any part of the (tax-) money behind.
  14. For indeed, by God, nobody acts thus
  15. without learning when he comes to me that
  16. what he has done is wrong, and faulty the discharge of his official duties, and I should not
  17. wish that anybody should see in thy administration
  18. anything of which he disapproves, any insufficiency, withholding
  19. or annulling. For when I sent thee
  20. to thy post, it was with the expectation
  21. that thou shouldest show trustworthiness,
  22. efficiency and promptness in thy office. Mayest thou then be near to
  23. the good opinion, I would fain hold of thee. By God,
  24. if thou actest well and honestly and art trustworthy
  25. and estimable, then I should prefer that, and it would please me more
  26. than if thou wert otherwise.
  27. Do not burden thyself with ignominy nor corrupt thy administration,
  28. and ask God's aid; for if anyone really
  29. cares for the well-being (of affairs) and show trustworthiness,
  30. God will also help him and further his work.
  31. Then present thyself to me with any (account) book
  32. about which thou thinkest I might question thee respecting the administrative sphere
  33. of thy country and of its clerks. And peace be upon
  34. him who follows the guidance. And ʿUmair has written (it)
  35. in Shawwāl of the year ninety one.


Egyptian National Library, Cairo, Egypt.

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[1] Adolf Grohmann, Arabic Papyri In The Egyptian Library, Volume III (Administrative Texts), 1938, Egyptian Library Press: Cairo, No. 146, Plate I, pp. 3-7.

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