The Qurra Papyrus - Oriental Institute No. 13758, 90 AH / 709 CE

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First Composed: 3rd December 2005

Last Modified: 9th December 2005

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Assalamu ʿalaykum wa rahamatullahi wa barakatuhu:



Figure: (a) Picture of the papyrus and (b) the content of the papyrus.

[] encloses letters supplied to fill a lacuna.


Dhūl-Qaʿdah / Dhūl-Hijjah, 90 AH / September - October, 709 CE. Although no date is given, this papyrus had been dated roughly by studying similar papyri by Nabia Abbott.


74.7 cm x 21.5 cm. Medium brown papyrus. The first part is lost; the rest is in very good condition. The writing throughout is clear and has suffered hardly any loss at all.

Accession No.

Oriental Institute No. 13758.


The translation of text is:

  1. ... and ...
  2. from your land, and I have found it.
  3. You still owe a large amount of revenue.
  4. You well know what time it has come to be;
  5. so appear
  6. before me now. By my life, if
  7. any finance officer delays
  8. beyond the term which I appointed,
  9. or appears before me having left
  10. behind him aught of the revenue,
  11. truly, he is but a self-deceiving fool who has light regard for
  12. his life. So when there has come to you
  13. this my letter, collect what is due from
  14. your land of gold tax and
  15. imposts and extraordinary taxes. Then come
  16. to me with the revenue of your land, together with those
  17. whom I had ordered you to bring with you
  18. of the people of your land. Now, by my life,
  19. I really used to think your administration
  20. more successful and better than what
  21. I have seen. For you have indeed done what not
  22. one of the finance officers has done
  23. in the delaying of what is due from you and in
  24. the incompetence of your administration. For indeed,
  25. by God, there is in my service not one
  26. who has delayed this revenue
  27. without being disgraced. Let there be no
  28. withholding of what is with you. And beware
  29. of excuses, for I am not
  30. of those who believe in excuses
  31. or accept them. Peace
  32. be with those who follow the guidance.
  33. Written by Khalīfah on Monday.


The reason in this document the day is only mentioned may be that they are urgent admonitions meant to be dispatched at once by a special messenger and delivered within a week so that results may be obtained with the latest possible delay.


Oriental Institute, Chicago.

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[1] N. Abbott, The Kurrah Papyri From Aphrodito In The Oriental Institute, 1938, Studies In Ancient Oriental Civilization: No. 15, The University of Chicago Press: Chicago (IL), pp. 49-52, Plate IV.

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