P. Colt. No. 60 - A Bilingual Entagion From The Year 54 AH / 674 CE

Islamic Awareness

© Islamic Awareness, All Rights Reserved.

First Composed: 15th September 2000

Last Modified: 12th January 2007

submit to reddit

Assalamu ʿalaykum wa rahamatullahi wa barakatuhu:




Figure: (a) Schematic representation of the Protocol, (b) picture of the entagion and (c) its content.

[] encloses letters supplied to fill a lacuna


54 AH / 674 CE.


32.2 cm. x 18.1 cm. It has Arabic and Greek text.

Light brown, fine papyrus, written in brown ink. The papyrus was folded up. In the center of the fold an oval - Nile mud seal measures 1.2:0.9 cm This document was found in ʿAuja' al-Ḥafir (Nestana or Neṣṣana), South Palestine.

Accession No.

P. Colt. No. 60.


The translation of the document is:

    1. [Arabic] [In the name of] God, the Compassionate and Merciful.
    2. From al-Ḥārith b. ʿAbd to the people of Neṣṣana
    3. province of Gaza, in the region of al-Ḥaluṣ
    4. Pay quickly to ʿUdayy ibn Khalid of the Banī
    5. Saʿd ibn Malik the due for Dhūl-Qaʿdah and
    6. al-Muḥarram and Ṣafar and the two months of Rabiʿ
    7. seventy measures of wheat and its equal in oil.
    8. written by Abū Saʿīd in Dhūl-Qaʿdah
    9. in the year 54. [Greek] In the name of God.
    10. Al-Ḥārith b. ʿAbd to the people of Nestana in the region of Elusa, province of Gaza.
    11. Pay quickly to Adiu b. Khalid of the Banī Saʿd b. Malik for the 5 months Dhūl-Qaʿdah
    12. and al-Muḥarram and Ṣafar and the two Rabiʿ seventy modii of wheat, seventy sextarii of oil.
    13. Written in the month of November of the 3rd indication, year 54 according to the Arabs,
    14. by the hand of Alexander son of Ammonius. Total: 70 modii of wheat, 70 sextrii of oil.


Repetition of line 14.


A protocol is a protective cover at the beginning of a papyrus roll, bearing caliph/governor's name and formulae. An entagion is an announcement of taxes owed by the local community. This entagion was found during excavations at Neṣṣana, 59 kms south of Beer-Sheba. The Roman fortress, surviving throughout the Christian period, was occupied by Muslims in 12 AH / 634 CE and deserted at the end of the Umayyad period. Numerous papyri document the transition from late Byzantine to early Islamic administration. The protocol suggests that this entagion comes from the time of Umayyad caliph Muʿāwiya (40–60 AH / 661–80 CE).

Diacritics appear on ب، ث، ز and ق.


Not known.

Bookmark and Share


[1] A. Grohmann, "Zum Papyrusprotokoll In Früharabischer Zeit", Jahrbuch Der Österreichischen Byzantinischen Gesellschaft, 1960, Volume IX, pp. 5-9.

[2] H. I. Bell, "The Arabic Bilingual Entagion", Proceedings Of The American Philosophical Society, 1945, Volume 89, pp. 538-539.

[3] B. Gruendler, The Development Of The Arabic Scripts: From The Nabatean Era To The First Islamic Century According To The Dated Texts, 1993, Harvard Semitic Series No. 43, Scholars Press: Atlanta (GA), pp. 22-23.

The images above are reproduced from the stated sources under the provisions of the copyright law. This allows for the reproduction of portions of copyrighted material for non-commercial, educational purposes.

With the exception for those images which have passed into the public domain, the use of these images for commercial purposes is expressly prohibited without the consent of the copyright holder.

Back To The Arabic Papyri