Archive name: Kellis Area A House 3 Archive
Trismegistos Archive ID: question mark icon Page on the database Trismegistos Collections for the archive.
Date: question mark icon Dates are CE unless preceded by a minus sign <->, in which case they are BCE. 301 – 400
Provenance: Kellis, Egypt
Trismegistos Place ID: question mark icon Page on the database Trismegistos Places for the place of provenance.
Manuscripts: KYP M176 177 184 185 735 907 1105 2114 2115
See all manuscripts in this archive.

These manuscripts may comprise an “archive”, meaning that they were brought together and deposited by an ancient person or persons.


A group of texts found in Area A, House 3 in Kellis.


The texts were excavated in situ.


All of the magical manuscripts can likely be dated to the second half of the fourth century, the period in which the individuals mentioned in them were active (Teigen 2018: p. 70-71).


The archive contains Greek, Lycopolitan Coptic, and a few Syriac texts. Of the magical texts, P. Kell. Gr. 85a + b (M185), P. Kell. Gr. 87 (M184), and P. Kellis inv. 92.35.b (M2115) are all written in Greek. P. Kell. Copt. 35 (M176) is bilingual, written in Lycopolitan Coptic with a small amount of Greek.


All of the magical texts are written on papyrus. A few of the other manuscripts from the archive are wooden codices.


P. Kell. Gr. 85a + b (M185) is a formulary, one of whose prescriptions is copied onto an amulet found in the archive (P. Kell. Gr. 87=M184) for Pamour III son of Tapollo, one of the house’s inhabitants active c.350-c.380 (Worp 1995: p. 50-54); a second amulet, P. Kellis inv. 92.35.b (M2115), is also for a Pamour, but the mother’s name is not specified. P. Kell. Copt. 35 (M176) is a letter transmitting a separation curse written by Ouales, perhaps a member of the Manichaean elect, to Psais III, the younger colleague or brother of Pamour III (Gardner, Alcock, and Funk 1999: p. 34-35, 41, 57-58).


The texts document the lives of three generations of inhabitants from the end of the third to the end of the fourth century. The inhabitants seem to have belonged to an extended family of Manichaeans, who gained income through weaving, ownership of olive and jujube trees, and trading cloth and fruit. Many of the family members, male and female, were literate, and were involved in the copying of religious texts as a spiritual praxis.

The majority of personal letters are in Coptic, but business letters with non-family members are in Greek, and religious texts are in both languages, while Syriac appears in a few bilingual texts with Coptic glosses.

The manuscripts found in the archive were likely those left behind when the house was abandoned at the end of the fourth century (Bowen 2015: p. 233-235).


Bowen, Gillian. “The Environment Within: the Archaeological Context of the Texts from House 3 at Kellis in Egypt’s Dakhleh-Oasis”, in Housing and Habitat in the Ancient Mediterranean, edited by Angelo Andrea Di Castro and Colin A. Hope, Leuven: Peeters, 2015, 231-241.

Bowen, Gillian E. “Textiles, Basketry and Leather Goods from Ismant el-Kharab,” in Dakhleh Oasis Project: Preliminary Reports on the 1994-1995 to 1998-1999 Field Seasons, edited by Colin A. Hope and Gillian E. Bowen. Oxford: Oxbow Books, 2002, p. 87-107.

Brand, Mattias. “The Manichaeans of Kellis: Religion, Community, and Everyday Life” (PhD thesis, University of Leiden, 2019).

de Haro Sanchez, Magali. “Les Papyrus Iatromagiques Grecs de Kellis,” Lucida Intervalla 37 (2008): 79-98.

Gardner, Iain, Anthony Alcock, and Wolf-Peter Funk. Coptic Documentary Texts from Kellis, volume 1 (P.Kell. V) Oxford: Oxbow Books, 1999.

Gardner, Iain Anthony Alcock, and Wolf-Peter Funk. Coptic Documentary Texts from Kellis, volume 2, (P. Kell. VII) Oxford: Oxbow Books, 2014.

Mirecki, Paul. “Manichaeism, Scribal Magic and Papyrus Kellis 35,” in Gnostica et Manichaica: Festschrift für Alois van Tongerloo Anlaßlich Des 60. Geburtstages überreicht von Kollegen, Freunden und Schülern, edited by Luigi Cirillo and Michael Knuppel. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2013, p. 133-146.

Mirecki, Paul Iain Gardner, and Anthony Alcock.. “Magical Spell, Manichaean Letter.” In Emerging from Darkness: Studies in the Recovery of Manichaean Sources, edited by Paul Mirecki and Jason Beduhn. Leiden: Brill, 1997, p. 1-32.

Teigen, Håkon Fiane. “Limbs of the Light Mind: The Social World of a Manichaean Community in Fourth-Century Egypt” (PhD thesis, University of Bergen, 2018).

Worp, Klaas A. Greek Papyri from Kellis: I (P.Kell. I) Oxford: Oxbow Books, 1995.

Edit History:

KD (29/9/2020); EL (29/9/2020)

How to cite:
Korshi Dosoo, Edward O.D. Love & Markéta Preininger (chief editors). "KYP A6: Kellis Area A House 3 Archive," Kyprianos Database of Ancient Ritual Texts and Objects, Accessed on 20/06/2024

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