Baking Emmer Bread in Ancient Egypt – Discoveries from Amarna

The side of the excavations being discussed is the old capital of Amarna, the city built by the pharaoh Ikhnaton.  Source - Samuel-Bread making and social interactions...

The site of the excavations being discussed is the old capital of Amarna, the city built by the pharaoh Ikhnaton. Source – Samuel-Bread making and social interactions…

Dr Delwen Samuel is an archaeobotanist and a leading expert in the production of bread and beer in ancient Egypt – particularly at the site of the Amarna Project (1353–1336 BC); shown in the map, above.  Through both archaeology and using bread-making tools of the era, she has identified an important step in the production of emmer bread that has been left out of ‘recipes’ that are based solely on artistic records:

Pounding emmer spikelets in the mortar (Fig. 6) very quickly established that water was essential for successful de-husking.  The quantity is not critical, but, if there is too little, most of the spikelets fly out of the mortar, whereas too much water makes them slosh out of the shallow bowl.

Source - Samuel-A new look at old bread

Source – Samuel-A new look at old bread

It does not take long to pound a measure of emmer spikelets but it requires strength and stamina.  The ancient Egyptians who carried out the pounding had to repeat the process over and over again, because the small mortars could take only a limited volume of spikelets at a time. …

Source - Samuel-Bread making and social interactions.

The steps that are needed is the 3rd down – ‘pounding with small amount of water’ and then drying.  Source – Samuel-Bread making and social interactions.

… I made replicas of the tools [used], based on specimens
excavated from arid settlement sites or recovered from tombs. Excavations showed that the ancient Amarna villagers built
elaborate mud-brick and plaster rims around their mortars … or simply set the mortars into the ground with the rim protruding slightly…

The following references have been used in briefly describing the ‘water-step’ in Delwen’s work:

Samuel – Bread Making and Social Interaction at the Amarna Workmen’s Village

Samuel – A New Look at Old Bread...

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Farming in Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt – What Happened to the Producers?

This entry is part of a dialogue with  Rachel Laudan, regarding the taxation of producers/farmers in Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt, based on sources found in the Fayum. Below, a little background information and more to follow on this much-delayed topic.

Egypt- the Fayum www-lib-umich-edu.jpg

Egypt- the Fayum www-lib-umich-edu.jpg

Several of the most interesting manuscripts retrieved through archaeology in the Fayum are called The Karanis tax rolls, which document taxes retrieved from producers:

This official archive is composed of four long tax-rolls (and some fragments) recording taxes for the years AD 171/172, 172/173, 173/174 and 174/175 … The rolls record different types of money taxes cashed in Karanis day-by-day, e.g. the poll tax, professional taxes and taxes connected with animals or land.

The arrangement is topographical and not alphabetical: the tax collectors visited house by house, family by family, where they received the taxes, usually in cash, though bank payments were also possible (SHELTON 1977).

Several entries show an ‘official’ left side (mentioning the landowner who was officially responsible for the payment of land taxes) and an ‘informal’ right side (mentioning, often between brackets, for instance the lessee who actually paid the taxes).

The ‘official’ left side is uniform, contrary to the ‘informal’ right side, which was of no interest to the fisc.

Source – Youtie (H. C.) et Pearl (Ο. M.). Tax rolls from Karanis. Part, II. Text and Indexes. Ann Arbor, The University of Michigan Press, 1939. (Michigan Papyri. Vol. IV) 1970).

Each entry  of the Karanis Tax-role contains the taxpayer’s name, his father’s name, and his hometown, matched in the right column by the amount of money paid.

This is one column from a tax roll found in Karanis which measured over one hundred feet long. Each entry contains the taxpayer's name, his father's name, and his hometown, matched in the right column by the amount of money paid. source - www.lib.umich.edu

This is one column from a tax roll found in Karanis which measured over one hundred feet long. Source – http://www.lib.umich.edu

Detailing the various taxes that are recorded in The Karanis tax-rolls, the following list records subsidiary charges (Youtie and Pearl, 1944, 24):

  • dichoinikia: a crown tax of 1/20th of an artaba per aroura of land, retained from the Ptolemaic period (Johnson, 1936, 508);

  • prosmetroumena: a supplementary charge, originally imposed by Augustus as compensation for differences in the content of local measures used in collecting grain dues and those specified bv the state for accepting tax payments (Boak, 194i, 27; Wallace, 38);

  • pentarabia: a 5% tax when payment was made in barley rather than wheat (Johnson, 1936, 511);

  • dragmategia: a charge for transporting sheaves from the field to the threshing floor (Johnson, 1936, 508).

Source: Gadza, Discoveries of the University of Michigan Expedition to Egypt (1924-1935). Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, 1997

An example of the entries, from Column 82 of the tax-rolls – 

“Maron, son of Limnaios, grandson of Maron, mother Thaisas, drachmas 16 obols 28;Horos, son of Horos, grandson of Horos, mother Taharmouthes, drachmas 4;in total for the day drachmas 216 obols 25.Epeiph 21 likewise:Petheus, son of Pasoxis, grandson of Petheus, mother Segathis, drachmas 4 copper drachmas 4;Kephalon, son of Isidoros, grandson of Petesouchos, mother Tasoucharion, drachmas 8;Charidemos, son of Leonides, grandson of Papeis, mother Tapetheus, drachmas 24;Achillas, son of Ptollis, grandson of Hieranouphis, mother Thermouthis, drachmas 8;Maron, son of Satabous, grandson of Maron, mother Tkonnos, copper drachmas 4;Mysthes, son of Patkonnis, grandson of Harobrotos, mother Ptolema, drachmas 4;Satabous, son of Dioskoros, grandson of Satabous, mother Tahorion, copper drachmas 4;Petaus, son of Pnepheros, grandson of Phanomgeus, mother Thaesis, drachmas 8;Pnepheros, his son, mother Thaesis, drachmas 4;Ptolemaios, son of Naaraus, grandson of Horion, mother Taorsenouphis, copper drachmas 8;Ptolemaios, son of Petheus, grandson of Sokmenis, mother Tauris, copper drachmas 4;Petheus, son of Petheus, grandson of Onnophris, mother Taphaseis, drachmas 8;Harsiesis, son of Petheus, grandson of Harsiesis, mother Thatres copper drachmas (of priests) 4;Petsiris, son of Petesouchos, grandson of Petheus, mother Apia, drachmas 32;Thaesis, daughter of Maron, mother of Longinius, physician, through the agency of Longinia Kyrilla;(in left margin: drachmas 8 obols 16) orchard taxes of year 12 apomoira drachma 1 obols 5 chalki 2, tax on the produce of olives obols 2, naubion obol 1 chalki 2, surcharges obols 3;eparourion drachma 1 obol 1.5, surcharges obol 0.5, kollybos obol 0.5, in total drachmas 4 obols 2;geometria of year 12 drachmas 4 obols 4 chalki 2, surcharges obol 1.5 chalki 2, in total drachmas 5;Leonides, son of Ptolemaios, grandson of Pnepheros, mother of Heras, drachmas 4;Horos alias Karanos, son of Petheus, grandson of Herakles, mother Tauris, drachmas 4 copper drachmas 4;Heras, his son, mother Tamystha, drachmas 4 copper drachmas 4;Petheus, son of Horos, grandson of Petheus, mother Sambathion, drachmas 8;Ammonios, son of Ammonios, grandson of Ammonios, mother Tninis, drachmas 4 copper drachmas 4;Anoubas, son of Horos, grandson of Anoubas, mother Tepheros, drachmas 4;Valerius, fatherless, mother Valeria, copper drachmas 4;Onnophris, fatherless, mother Taeuhemeros, drachmas 8;Chairemon, son of Pasoxis, grandson of Pasoxis, mother Tanephremis, drachmas 4;Pakysis, son of Phanomgeus, grandson of Pakysis, mother Tepheros, drachmas 4 obols 20;Paoueites, son of Petheus, grandson of Phasis, mother Tapetheus, drachmas 4;Ptolemaios, son of Leonides, grandson of Papeis, mother Tapetheus, drachmas 8;in total for the day drachmas 212 obols 7;(Epeiph) 22 likewise:Imouthes, son of Keras, grandson of Menandros, mother Tepheros, copper drachmas 8.”

Traveling in the Fayum from Karanis to Tebtunis

A series of short videos giving a brief view of two of the most important sites in the Fayum Karanis and Tebtunis – there are several short videos, which will automatically open for you – well worth a look

Posted in Egypt-Ancient, Fayyum, Graeco-Roman era | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Grain Taxes and The Advanced Papyrological Information System (APIS)

Egypt- the Fayum www-lib-umich-edu.jpg

Egypt- the Fayum www-lib-umich-edu.jpg

Major sites in the Fayum; sources of manuscripts and archaeological work.  Source -

Major sites in the Fayum; sources of manuscripts and archaeological work. Source – http://www.lib.umich.ed

PLAN OF GRANARY C123, ONE OF SEVENTEEN SUCH STORAGE FACILITIES EXCAVATED AT KARANIS www.umich.edu

PLAN OF GRANARY C123, ONE OF SEVENTEEN SUCH STORAGE FACILITIES EXCAVATED AT KARANIS; source – http://www.umich.edu

2009figure2  Granary C123 in 1920s. Source - www.archbase

2009figure2 Granary C123 in 1920s. Source – http://www.archbase

The manuscripts and archaeological remains from the Fayum have provided us with an important view of administration and life in Ptolemaic and Roman times in Egypt.  As the plan and photo of a granary in Karanis above shows, this was a region of important grain storage and taxation:

Ten large granaries and seven smaller ones revealed by the excavators underscore the dominant role that grain production played in the local economy. These buildings housed the tax-grain but were also leased for private use.

All of the large granaries at Karanis were constructed along lines similar to Roman military storehouses. Rooms used as offices or living quarters fronted onto the street. Behind them was a central courtyard, three sides of which were lined with storage bins or, more often, chambers with vaulted ceilings that reached a height of about three meters above the floor.

The interiors of these chambers were subdivided into four or six bins, each about a meter deep. A small window high in the arch provided ventilation.14 This arrangement conforms remarkably well to the type prescribed by Columella, in his agricultural treatise of the first century AD:

[The] best place for storing grain … [is] a granary with a vaulted ceiling … [and] divided into bins to permit the storage of every kind of legume by itsef.

Source – Columella, I.6,   http://www.umich.edu/

Below follows a bit more information on these important sources, as being developed in the important APIS project, about which more to follow:

The Advanced Papyrological Information System (APIS) was planned, starting in 1995, by Roger Bagnall, †Traianos Gagos, and †John Oates, representing Columbia University, the University of Michigan, and Duke University. Berkeley, Princeton, and Yale joined the effort soon after.

The project was launched in 1996/7 with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the six original institutions.

The goal was to create a collections-based repository of information about and images of papyrological materials (e.g., papyri, ostraca, wooden tablets, etc.) located in collections around the world; it was envisaged as a first stage in creating a comprehensive papyrological working environment online. A total of six NEH grants, along with institutional support, foundation grants, and private donations, sustained the development of APIS through 2013.

At present it includes twelve full member institutions along with another fifteen collections that have contributed data, including some archaeological field projects.

Its founding vision was more completely realized when it was systematically linked to the other resources in the Papyrological Navigator through the Integrating Digital Papyrology project, in several phases, supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and directed by Joshua Sosin.

APIS contains physical descriptions, provenance, dating, and bibliographic information about these papyri and other written materials, as well as digital images and English translations of many of these texts.

For many there is also information about the acquisition history of the objects. APIS includes both published and unpublished material in all languages. Generally, much more detailed information is available about the published texts. Unpublished papyri have often not yet been fully transcribed, and the information available is sometimes very basic.

If you need more information about a papyrus, you should contact the appropriate person at the owning institution. Active development and hosting of the APIS technical infrastructure was carried out at a number of APIS partner institutions over the period 1996-2013, principally Columbia University, the University of Michigan and New York University. As of 1 July 2013, the host and steward of canonical APIS data is papyri.info, which is served by the DC3 and Duke University Libraries.

The collections module, with a metadata record editor, of papyri.info is now open to all institutions, whether or not they are APIS members. Collections of any size may contribute catalog records, images, texts, translations, and metadata to papyri.info directly, once they establish an authorized editorial structure. Interested collections should contact dcthree AT duke DOT edu.

Source – APIS – Advanced Papyri Information System

tebtunis crocodile inscription source - www.lib.berkeley.edu

tebtunis crocodile inscription source – http://www.lib.berkeley.edu

The Tebtunis papyri were found in the winter of 1899/1900 at the site of ancient Tebtunis, Egypt. The expedition to Tebtunis, which was led by the British papyrologists Bernard P. Grenfell and Arthur S. Hunt, was financed for the University of California by Mrs. Phoebe Apperson Hearst.

The Tebtunis papyri form the largest collection of papyrus texts in the Americas. The collection has never been counted and inventoried completely, but the number of fragments contained in it exceeds 30,000.

This web site, which is under continuous development, will provide electronic access to images of the Tebtunis papyri as well as textual information.

Source – APIS – Advanced Papyri Information System

 Umm el-Breigat, ancient Tebtunis, is situated in the southwest corner of the Fayum basin in Egypt. Its history covers some 3,000 years, from the early second millennium B.C. into the thirteenth century A.D. Its best documented epoch is the Graeco-Roman period, roughly from the third century BC through the third century AD.

Tebtunis’ center was marked by the temple of the crocodile god Soknebtunis (“Sobek, lord of Tebtunis”). The temple enclosure itself and the ceremonial way (dromos) leading up to it can easily be recognized on an aerial photograph made of the site in the thirties.

Karanis 1934 aerial photograph, Source - http://quod.lib.umich.edu/

Karanis in the Fayum, near the site of Tebtunis, 1934 aerial photograph in which the cereonial way [dromos] leading up to the temple can be seen. Source – http://quod.lib.umich.edu/

The subjects illustrated by the written material from Tebtunis [and Karanis] vary. They include the contents of the temple library and the notary office, family archives of various village dignitaries, and much, much more.

Besides texts from Tebtunis itself, the site has also yielded papyri from neighboring villages, such as Kerkeosiris and Oxyrhyncha, that were used in the mummification of both humans and crocodiles that were buried in the necropolis of Tebtunis.

Research into this rich corpus of documents (and their related archaeological objects) is being done at various institutions worldwide and will significantly enrich our understanding of the administrative and socio-economic history of the entire ancient Mediterranean world.

Source – The Center for the Tebtunis Papyri, Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley

Several Examples of manuscripts in the APIS collection that were retrieved from crocodile cartonnage at Tebtunis 18.5 –

APIS ID:
262
Holding Institution:
Bancroft Library, Univ. of Calif., Berkeley
Call Number: 
P.Tebt.0001 (1) Recto
Location: 
Vault; 1 frame
Author: 
Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II, King of Egypt, d. 116 B.C.
Type of Text/Title: 
Decrees of King Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II : copy
Section/Side: 
On recto Col. II, Anthology: fragments; on verso, list of names and numbers.
Publication/Side: 
Recto Col. II, published; verso unpublished.
Connections: 
Copy of the decrees found in P.Tebt.5.
Material: 
Pap
Items: 
1
Size: 
25 x 22.3 cm.
Lines: 
10 lines, on recto along the fibers.
Physical Properties: 
Margins: top, 3 cm.; left, 1.5 cm.; bottom, 13 cm.; in top margin, in red ink “1”.
Paleographic Description: 
Well-formed semi-uncial, with occasional lapses to cursive forms.
Publication Status: 
published
Modern Date: 
ca. 100 B.C.
Origin: 
Kerkeosiris?
UC Inventory Number: 
1903
Provenance: 
Crocodile cartonnage at Tebtunis 28.5
Language: 
Greek
Genre: 
Royal ordinances (Ptolemaic law)
Content: 
Commencement of the decrees of Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II.
Subject: 
Constitutional law, 332-30 B.C.; Politics and government, 332-30 B.C.; Ptolemaic dynasty, 305-30 B.C.
Geographica: 
Kerkeosiris
Publications: 
P.Tebt., I.1; C.Ord.Ptol., no. 53 bis; Plate: C.Ord.Ptol., fig. 1

PAPYRUS – On recto col. I, Decrees of Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II: copy; On verso, Lists of names.

APIS ID:
284
Holding Institution:
Bancroft Library, Univ. of Calif., Berkeley
Call Number: 
P.Tebt.0001 (2) Recto
Location: 
Vault; 1 frame
Type of Text/Title: 
Anthology : fragments
Section/Side: 
On recto col. I, Decrees of Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II: copy; On verso, Lists of names.
Publication/Side: 
Recto col. I published; verso unpublished.
Connections: 
For another copy of the same anthology by the same scribe see P.Tebt.2 (a-c).
Material: 
Pap
Items: 
1
Size: 
30.5 x 30.4 cm.
Lines: 
19 lines, on recto along the fibers.
Physical Properties: 
Margins: top, 3.7 cm.; bottom, 9 cm.; right, 2.2 cm.; in top left corner, and in lower left intercolumnar space, in red ink “1”; sheet join 4.7 cm. from right edge.
Paleographic Description: 
Well-formed semi-uncial, with occasional lapses to cursive forms.
Publication Status: 
published
Modern Date: 
ca. 100 B.C.
UC Inventory Number: 
3058
Provenance: 
crocodile cartonnage at Tebtunis 18.5
Language: 
Greek
Genre: 
Literary papyri, Unidentified authors; Poems
Content: 
Lyrics addressed by Helen of Troy to her husband Menelaos; an elaborate lyrical description of woodland solitude; and 2 epigrammatic couplets concerning the passion of love.
Publications: 
P.Tebt., I.1; Page, D.L. Gr.lit.pap., I.92; Plate: P.Tebt. I.p1. I; Plate: Roberts, C.H. Gr. Lit. hands, pl. 7. no. 1606
Bibliography Corrections: 
Pack, R.A. Greek and Latin literary texts from Greco-Roman Egypt (2nd ed.) no. 1606; I.O. Powell, Collectanea Alexandrina, p. 185-186, nos. 6-8.
Translation: 
(Lines 1-4) O sweet delight didst thou seem to me, when thou lovedst me, when with hostile spear thou didst sack the Phrygians’ city, desiring to take me only as thy spouse back to thy native land; but now, heartless one, wilt thou depart, leaving me a lonely wife, for whom went out the band of the Danaids, for whose sake Artemis carried off the unwed maid, Agamemnon’s victim?
(Lines 5-11) The brown birds singing hard-by through the wood deserted of commanders, perched on the topmost branches of a pine, chirped and twittered in mingled chorus, some beginning, others pausing, others silent, others in full song; then the hills speak with voices, and chattering Echo, lover of solitude, answers in the dells; the willing busy bees, blunt-faced and dusky-winged, summer’s thronging toilers, who leave their sting behind, deep-toned, workers in clay, full of eagerness, unsheltered, draw out the sweet nectar, honey-laden.
(Lines 12-13) In admonishing a lover you are ignorant that you are seeking to quench a smoldering fire with oil.
(Lines 13-14) A lover’s spirit, as a torch fanned by the wind, is now ablaze, and now again dies away.
(Lines 15-16) We are drunk with drinking and no longer in our senses, and love has consumed me with … that are like fire.
Posted in APIS, Egyptian Temples, Egyptology, Graeco-Roman, History-Ancient, Karanis | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Crocodile Cartonnage and Classical Manuscripts – Tebtunis, Fayum-Egypt

At the end of the 19th century the classicists Bernard P. Grenfell and Arthur S. Hunt  were comissioned by the Egyptologist George Reisner to conduct excavations for the University of California, Berkeley, in the Fayum, a semi-oasis that is located about 100 klms south-west of Cairo.

Then, as in later times, the most sought after texts were those written in Greek, for it had been discovered that remnants of Greek literature, biblical snippets, and other texts of this era – including those written in demotic –   might be contained in these later manuscripts – an issue to be taken up in a future blog.

Grenfell and Hunt’s first objective was the town of Tebtunis itself. In the course of a few weeks they rummaged through the remains of the town and through the remains of a temple complex, which would turn out to be the temple of the crocodile god Soknebtunis (“Sobek, lord of Tebtunis”).

In both locations they found a wealth of papyrus, allowing George Reisner to report to Mrs. Hearst on 2 January 1900, that he was “very happy to report extraordinary success on the part of Grenfell and Hunt in the Fayum,” having found “nearly as much as in any ordinary year.”

Ruins at Tebtunis.  Source - fayoum_tebtunis01

Ruins at Tebtunis. Source – fayoum_tebtunis01

In early January 1900, Grenfell and Hunt moved to the huge necropolis in the desert south of Tebtunis. Here they sought human mummies, in particular the cartonnage covering these mummies.

A few years earlier, this cartonnage had been proven to be a possible source of texts, when Sir Flinders Petrie discovered that discarded papyri were sometimes employed in its manufacture (think “papyrus mâché”), especially during the later periods. Grenfell and Hunt unearthed more than fifty mummies in whose cartonnage discarded papyri had been used

6_21633 Fayum, Tebtunis, Cemetery 6 Ptolemaic  hearstmuseum.berkeley.edu

6_21633 Fayum, Tebtunis, Cemetery 6 Ptolemaic hearstmuseum.berkeley.edu

… on January 16, 1900, one of Grenfell and Hunt’s workmen, “disgusted at finding a row of crocodiles where he expected sarcophagi, broke one of them in pieces and disclosed the surprising fact that the creature was wrapped in sheets of papyrus.”

After this discovery, Grenfell and Hunt devoted the remainder of the season to clearing out part of the crocodile cemetery. Although they unearthed more than 1,000 of these mummified reptiles, only 31 appeared to have been mummified with the help of discarded papyri…

Source: History of the Tebtunis Papyri, The Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley.

Grenfell and Hunt, during excavations at Oxyrhynchus-1896-1897 Source - EES

Grenfell and Hunt, 1896-1897.  Source – Egyptian Exploration Society (EES)

Grenfell and Hunt take up the details of their exciting discoveries in The Tebtunis Papyri, Part 1, 1902, stating that –

Of the large collection of papyri found by us in the winter of 1899-1900 at Umm el Baragit (the ancient Tebtunis), when we were excavating for the University of California, Berkeley  with funds generously provided by Mrs. Phoebe A. Hearst, that portion which was obtained from the mummies of crocodiles dating from the second and first centuries B.C. was published by us in collaboration with Prof. J. G. Smyly in 1902.

Fayum (semi) oasis; Tebtunis is located  just aboe Oxyrhinkus.  Source - www.athenapub.com

Fayum (semi) oasis, south-west of Cairo; Tebtunis is located just above Oxyrhynchus, left side.  Source – http://www.athenapub.com

It is from this first season of digging that Grenfell and Hunt translated and published volume one of their work in 1902.  The first manuscript that they translated and described – P.Tebt.0001 (2) Recto – contains several lines of a Greek poem and other materials, as discussed below:

Grenefell.Hunt.vol.1 1stLines 1-4 [of the papyrus; a few lines of the manuscript are above and in the header] appear to be an address by Helen [of Troy] to her husband Menelaus, who had brought her back from Troy, but was now in his turn deserting her.

If so, however, the writer was following a tradition which has not otherwise survived, for Menelaus and Helen after the fall of Troy are elsewhere represented as having lived … in harmony at Sparta.

This is followed (11. 5-11) by an elaborate description of a woodland solitude, frequented only by singing birds and humming bees, the latter being distinguished by an extraordinary accumulation of epithets…

Source – The Tebtunis Papyri, Part 1, 1902, edited by Bernard P. Grenfell, Arthur S. Hunt, and the assistance of J. Gilbaret Smyly

dult crocodile mummies excavated at Tebtunis, 1900. Source - Egyptian Exploration Society.

Adult crocodile mummies containing papyri that were excavated at Tebtunis, 1900. Source – Egyptian Exploration Society.

O sweet delight you did seem to me, when you loved me, when – with hostile spear – you did sack the Phrygians’ city, desiring to take me only as your spouse back to your native land;But now, heartless one, will you depart, leaving me a lonely wife, . . . for whom went out the band of the Danaids*, for whose sake Artemis carried off the unwed maid, Agamemnon’s victim?

The brown birds singing hard-by through the wood deserted of commanders, perched on the topmost branches of a pine, chirped and twittered in mingled chorus, some beginning, others pausing, others silent, others in full song;

Then the hills speak with voices, and chattering Echo, lover of solitude, answers in the dells;

The willing busy bees, blunt-faced and dusky-winged, summer’s thronging toilers, who leave their sting behind, deep-toned, workers in clay, full of eagerness, unsheltered, draw out the sweet nectar, honey-laden.

In admonishing a lover you are ignorant that you are seeking to quench a smoldering fire with oil.

A lover’s spirit, as a torch fanned by the wind, is now ablaze, and now again dies away.

We are drunk with drinking and no longer in our senses, and love has consumed me with …. that are like fire…

Source – As above

The Danaides kill their husbands,
miniature by Robinet Testard. Source- Wikipedia

* Danaus agreed to the marriage of his [50] daughters only after Aegyptus came to Argos with his fifty sons in order to protect the local population, the Argives, from any battles. The daughters were ordered by their father to kill their husbands on the first night of their weddings and this they all did with the exception of one, Hypermnestra, who spared her husband Lynceus because he respected her desire to remain a virgin. Danaus was angered that his daughter refused to do as he ordered and took her to the Argives courts. Lynceus killed Danaus as revenge for the death of his brothers and he and Hypermnestra started the Danaid Dynasty of rulers in Argos.

The other forty-nine daughters remarried by choosing their mates in footraces. Some accounts tell that their punishment was in Tartarus, being forced to carry a jug to fill a bathtub (pithos) without a bottom (or with a leak) to wash their sins off. Because the water was always leaking they would forever try to fill the tub. …

The 49 sisters endlessly carrying water,to fil a tank that has holes.  Source - 1034s uwm.edu danaids

The 49 sisters endlessly carrying water,to fill a tank that has holes. Source – 1034s uwm.edu danaids

 

Posted in Crocodiles, Culture, Egypt-Ancient, Egyptology, Graeco-Roman era | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Affairs of Goat-herders and Goose-herders in Ancient Egypt

In later periods of ancient Egyptian history, papyri are found that are written in demotic, abnormal hieratic, or hieratic, and that record a variety of contracts – many documenting a loan.  During this time, associations were formed around  occupations, for example: goose-herders, goat-herders, donkey-drivers, ship-contractors. etc.  From earlier times,  guilds of mummifiers and undertakers, etc, are also known.

Members of these voluntary groups could stand up for one another and offered a form of joint,  non-hereditary grouping that is still found in Egypt today, called al-jamiyah al-khiriah – voluntary societies.

The following loan contracts are two examples of legal documents, the first pertaining to goat-herders and second to goose-herders:

  1. A manuscript featuring two goat-herders written in abnormal hieratic explains the new arrangement of a debt:

The goatherd Paiuiuhor son of Nesamun states to the goatherd Ityaâ that the latter has paid his (i.e. Paiuiuhor’s) debt to the goatherd Tjaynahebu and that he now owes this amount to Ityaâ.

If he tries to go back on this deal the amount owed by him will be doubled.

Source – K. Donker van Heel, ‘A day in the life of the ancient Egyptian goatherd Ityaa: abnormal hieratic P. Michaelides 1 and 2 (P. BM EA 10907 and 10906)’, in JEA 90 (2004), p.
153-166

Top half of the contract is shown below

K. Donker van Heel, ‘A day in the life of the ancient Egyptian goatherd Ityaa: abnormal hieratic P. Michaelides 1 and 2 (P. BM EA 10907 and 10906)’, in JEA 90 (2004), p. 153-166 and

Source – K. Donker van Heel, ‘A day in the life of the ancient Egyptian goatherd Ityaa:
abnormal hieratic P. Michaelides 1 and 2 (P. BM EA 10907 and 10906)’, in JEA 90 (2004), p.
153-166

2. The following manuscript details a money loan between two goose-herders. Of interest, are the various ways in which the contract identifies the two parties and also includes the signatures of four witnesses.

Pap. Hou 12, A Persian period loan of money written in demotic Egyptian.16 Year 35, 2d month of the shemu season (Payni) under Pharaoh [Darius].

Says the [Goose] herd [of the Domain of Amon, Petash] otmef, son of Inarou, his mother Te[te]tichy, to the Gooseherd of the Domain of Amon (2) [……….., son of In]arou, his mother Obastorer:

[I have received from you] 3 [kite silver] of the treasury of Ptah, [refined, which you gave] me; it is I who will give you 6 kite silver of the treasury of Ptah, refined17, (3) [because of] them, in year 36, 1st month of the peret season (Tybi).

If I fail [to give] you [these] 6 kite silver of the treasury [of Ptah, refined], in year 36, 1st month of the peret season (Tybi) they will bear (interest) against me, 1/10th of silver to (4) each (kite of silver), from year 36, 2d month of the peret season (Mecheir) onwards, while they don’t stop as interest [in any month (and) any year] that they will be with me, while interest (will) bear as interest against me (5) again, and also this interest which is (mentioned) above, till whatever ever they would reach; and I will give then [ to you and also their interests].

This(?) money which is (mentioned) above and also their interests [will] befall on me (6) (and) on my children, and also (on) the pledges that you will want [from me, all, all, (as) houses, slave, (female) slave, cow,] donkey, and cattle, barley, emmer, (7) silver, bronze, clothing, everything as chattels, and you will take them [to you] because of them, till [you have filled them with the above money and their interests].

[I shall not be able to say], ‘I have given to you money (or) interest among them, while (8) this document is in your hand.

In writing of Onnôfri, son of Tethotefônch. Four witnesses sign on the verso of the contract.

Sources – 

S.P. Vleeming, The Gooseherds of Hou (Pap. Hou). A Dossier Relating to Various Agricultural Affairs from Provincial Egypt of the Early Fifth Century BC (Leuven, 1991)

J.G.Manning, Coinage as ‘Code’ in Ptolemaic Egypt (Stanford University, 2006). 

Posted in Demotic, Egypt-Ancient | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Ptolemaic Decrees and Administration from the Fayum

 An example of retrieved anuscript; Menches, kômogrammateus. (village scribe) of Kerkeosiris. Source - Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley

An example of a retrieved manuscript; Menches, kômogrammateus. (village scribe) of Kerkeosiris. Source – Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley

Ptolemaic rulers in Egypt sought both to assure taxes for their own coffers, as well as to administer what were considered benevolent rulings.  We are fortunate to have an extremely large collection of manuscripts, many of which were administrative and were unearthed from ruins located in the Fayum, or retrieved from the cartonnage of both human and crocodile mummies in several sites in the Fayum and elsewhere in ancient Egypt.

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An example of a retrieved manuscript; Menches, kômogrammateus. (village scribe) of Kerkeosiris. Source – Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley

Here are translations of two interesting examples of such manuscripts,  the first being a proclamation of amnesty conferred by the Ptolemaic rulers – King Ptolemaios and Queen Kleopatra the sister and Queen Kleopatra the wife – on subjects who were in specific  occupational categories,  and the second by a village scribe with its subjoined letter – about local smuggling activities involving castor and olive oils.

It has been noted that as the recent arrivals to Egypt of Thracians, most being military persons for Greece, were given land, they were often seen by indigenous persons as untrustworthy agents.  This is exemplified in the second letter, below, where even the name of the ‘Thracian’ was unknown – only his racial attribution.

1.  dd500_tra | 1 | 28th April 118 BCE

(lines 1-13) King Ptolemaios and Queen Kleopatra the sister and Queen Kleopatra the wife proclaim an amnesty to all their subjects for errors, crimes, accusations, condemnations and charges of all kinds up to the 9th of Pharmouthi of the 52nd year, except to persons guilty of wilful murder or sacrilege … And they have decreed that …

(Lines 168-177) The following classes, the Greeks serving in the army, the priests, the cultivators of Crown lands, the …, all the wool-weavers and clothmakers, the swineherds, the gooseherds, and makers of …, oil, castor-oil, honey, and beer, who pay the proper sums to the Crown, shall not have persons quartered in the one house in which each of them lives, and in the case of their other buildings which may be used for quarters, not more than half shall be occupied for that purpose…

……

2.  dd500_tra | 1 |

Menches, village scribe of Kerkeosiris in the division of Polemon, to Horos, greeting.

At the … of the land survey according to crops which took place in Ptolemais Euergetis [An Egyptian Village in the Ptolemaic Period] news reached me that Apollodoros, the seller of oil at the village, had found on the 11th of the month below written a certain Thracian* who had been selling oil in the house inhabited by Petesouchos, a leather-seller … handing this Thracian over to Apollonios, who is discharging the duties of Epistates at the said village, together with the contraband goods, to be brought up before the proper officials.

With reference to this case Apollodoros has presented to me the subjoined statement. I have therefore thought it right to communicate with you.

Good-bye.

 An example of retrieved anuscript; Menches, kômogrammateus. (village scribe) of Kerkeosiris. Source - Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley

An example of retrieved manuscript; Menches, kômogrammateus. (village scribe) of Kerkeosiris. Source – Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley

The subjoined statement, referenced in the above letter:

The 4th year, Mecheir 14. From Apollodoros, the contractor for the disposal of and the tax upon oil in the said village for the 4th year.

My enterprise has been made a complete failure owing to the smuggling into the village and illicit sale of smuggled oil and castor oil. Therefore on the 11th of Mecheir, when news had been brought to me that a certain Thracian* of Kerkesephis, whose name I do not know, had smuggled oil into the dwelling inhabited by Petesouchos, a leather-seller, and was selling it to Thaesis, who was living in the same house, and to N.N. a gooseherd, and his daughter, inhabitant of the same village,   I immediately took the Epistates** and the agent of the archiphylakites [police official]–as you were not present on the occasion– to the aforesaid dwelling of the leather-seller, where I found the Thracian indoors, but the contraband goods removed.

After a search for it with them I discovered … concealed in a hide and sheepskins belonging to the leather-seller. (Meanwhile the Thracian*?) took to flight, and the contraband oil … resulting in a loss to me amounting to 15 talents of copper.

I therefore present to you this statement in order that you may subscribe to my statements and forward a copy to the proper officials …

Farewell. (Addressed on the verso:) To Horos.

* Thrace, Thracian – a person originating from, or ethnically affiliated with, Thrace – situated in the Balkans.
** Epistates – any sort of overseer or superintendent

Source (for last 2 above) – http://www.columbia.edu/cu/libraries/inside/projects/apis/berkeley/input/CU_apis_20021223.txt

To learn more about ancient Thrace and its place in history, here is a very interesting Bulgarian documentary, with English subtitles –

Posted in Egypt-Ancient, Fayyum, Olive orchards | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Baking Holy Bread in the Coptic Monasteries of the Eastern Desert of Egypt [qurban; ‘urban]

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Bread was the central element of cuisine and daily nourishment in Ancient Egypt, from the very poorest through the nobility. Today, bread is commonly known as ‘aysh in Egypt, meaning ‘life’ in Arabic.  In the Old Kingdom, so-called rectangular slab stelae regularly picture the deceased seated in front of a table laden with bread, while additional offerings are enumerated in the accompanied registers.  It is bread, however, that is always central:

Manuelian g 1201 Slab stela of Wepemnefret in Giza West Cemetery mastaba.  Wepemnefret seated in front of a presentation table of bread.  Source - Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology, Berkeley, 6–19825. Photograph by Bruce White.  Future blogs will discuss slab stelae and other means of portraying and discussing bread.

Manuelian g 1201 Slab stela of Wepemnefret in Giza West Cemetery mastaba. Wepemnefret seated in front of a presentation table of bread. Source – Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology, Berkeley, 6–19825. Photograph by Bruce White. Future blogs will discuss slab stelae and other means of portraying and discussing bread.

Several millennia later, along the Nile Valley, bread continued being the key dietary component – as antique and ancient Egyptian cuisines and life-styles were gradually replaced by Coptic orthodox churches and general Coptic  life-styles – a transformation that began in the late first century CE [Current Era].

In this blog I want to focus on the latter – on the role of holy bread – or qurbaan/’urbaan – which is the key culinary component of Coptic religious life and liturgy.  Then, in later blogs, I shall look at the production and consumption of bread in earlier periods of Egyptian history, beginning with the slab stelae of the Old Kingdom, and what these representations and accompanying texts might tell us about society, agriculture and cuisine of these periods and places along the Nile Valley.

This is a very enjoyable journey, for I have studied and have various levels of skill in all forms of language in Egypt – from earliest forms of hieroglyphic writing and syntax, through modern colloquial Egyptian, which I spoke fluently in Egypt during my years of doctoral research and later work; pretty rusty now, though.   I also want to thank William Rubel for suggesting such an interesting chance to pursue this venture – following the historical path of bread along the chain of grain and bread that is linked to the Nile Valley; great fun and a bit of a challenge!

First, however, let’s look at a bit of linguistic history regarding the words Copt/Coptic, Egypt and Gypsy – all of which are related and are derived from ancient Egyptian words – with the first two providing the central historical frame for the emergence and transformations of ‘bread’ during the long story of cuisine in the Nile Valley.  To help unravel the meanings of these words, here is some of the work by  A.K. Ayma on their etymology:

Egypt, Copt/Coptic, Gypsy

Egypt derives from Latin Aegyptus, which in turn goes back on the Greek name for the Nile country: Aiguptos. This name originally seems to have been one of the names of Memphis, the capital of the country, a name that later came to denote the entire land by pars pro toto.

For the Greek Aiguptos was derived from [ancient egyptian] Hy.t-k3-ptH (Haykuptah)(= “Mansion of the ka, i.e. life force, of Ptah”) – the name of the Ptah temple in Memphis, a name which first came to denote also the city area around the temple, and finally was extended to the whole city of Memphis; as such it appears in cuneiform records as name for the city: Khi-ku-up-ta-akh (Hekuptah).

Already in the Mycenean/Cretan Linear B tablets (13th c. BC), the personal name a-ku-pi-ti-yo (Aikupitiyo, i.e. Aiguptios, “the Egyptian”) is attested (Talanta XXVIII/XXIX, p.157). Note that Hy.t (*Hayit) is a variant of the more usual Hw.t or H.t (see Vycichl p. 5, 287, 519).

The Greek aiguptios (= “Egyptian”) was later borrowed, via a shortened form *gupti, into Arabic as qibti (in local Theban dialect also: qubti), and into the jewish Talmud as gifti (cf. Loprieno p. 241; Vycichl p.5). Because of this the native (non-Arabic and Christian) Egyptians were called Qibti or Qubti – from which derives our Copt.

The mysterious nomads who appeared in Europe in the late 15th c. AD, and in reality (i.e. linguistically) did stem from India, were associated with the far and mysterious Egypt, and therefore called Gyphtoi (in Greece) and Gypsies (in England, older form Gypcian, short for Egipcien “Egyptian”), names that are corruptions of Latin Aegypti (“Egyptians”).

Source:  A.K. Eyma – Egyptian Loan Words in English, version 17 (March ’07).

 A few words on the Coptic Alphabet, by Geoffrey Graham

So how is Coptic different from earlier forms of the ancient Egyptian language?  Here are some thoughts by Geoffrey Graham, and more details are to be found on the AEL site

[web addresses to follow – lots of internet problems today…]

Let me … introduce the Coptic Alphabet (yes it is an alphabet, much easier than ancient Egyptian!) and the pertinent phonology: The Coptic Alphabet was borrowed from Classical Greek, at some time before the development of Koine Greek, although the records of its early development have not yet been found. This means that the phonology of Coptic’s usage of the Greek alphabet reflects the kind of Greek spoken about 200 BC, rather than the period at which Coptic seems to first appear in our records, about 200 AD! …

… That is the Coptic Alphabet as it comes to us in the Sahidic Dialect. Other dialects have a few additional characters, but one generally begins with Sahidic, and this should suffice for now. The first section of letters are all borrowed from the Greek alphabet, and the last six were adopted from the Demotic Script, the native form of writing used in Egypt…

… I am offering a brief anecdote from the Apothegmata PatrumTales of the Desert Fathers“. It is very short, and possibly a little simplistic. I will try to explain what is going on so that people will have a taste of what the last stage of Egyptian sounded like…

geoffrey.graham@yale.edu-AEL A coptic anecdote

geoffrey.graham@yale.edu-AEL A Coptic anecdote

Here it goes:

  • “The devil transformed himself in an angelic costume of light.”
  • “He appeared to one of the brothers and he said to him; “I am
    Gabriel
  • “But he said to him: “Look, you you must have been sent unto
    another one of the brothers,
  • “And, as for him, then he disappeared.”

 Source: <geoffrey.graham@yale.edu> A Coptic Anecdote, on AEL

As a short saying from The Desert Fathers, I think this is actually quite a pithy and multi-layered piece – not ‘simplistic’ as suggested by Graham; more on that later.

. . . . .

Okay, now that we’re in linguistic harmony with the substrate of our subject, let’s look at several pictures taken in or before 1930 that document  bread production in the monasteries of Saint Paul and Saint Anthony, located in the Red Sea Desert.  I have selected these to show not only the production of Coptic bread, which is highly ritualized, but also to depict some of the  more general features of monastery cuisine.  As far as I know, these are the earliest pictures of bread and food production in Coptic monasteries of Egypt.

Location of these two monasteries in the Red Sea Provance.  Source - aetravelstories.blogs

Location of these two monasteries in the Red Sea Provance. Source – aetravelstories.blogs

These (and other) Coptic monasteries in Egypt were generally self-sufficient both in the production of foods – both in the monastery walls and in plots that they may have farmed in the Nile Valley – as well as in the processing of these foods.

|St Paul (Deir Anbba Bula) mid 19th century or earlier. Source -  www.touregypt.net

St Paul (Deir Anbba Bula) mid 19th century or earlier. Source – http://www.touregypt.net

General view of the Monastery of Saint Anthony

General view of the Monastery of Saint Anthony.  Source – Dumbarton Oaks

The Abbot in the library St.Paul

The Abbot in the library of St.Paul. I am intrigued by what appear to be quite modern, white tabs on which call numbers would be written.  Was this one of the introductions of Whittemore’s expedition?   Source – Dumbarton Oaks

St. Anthony’s Monastery mill room, source - ARCE

St. Anthony’s Monastery mill room.  I am unaware of any other working mills in Egypt – though there have been some excavations in the Fayum that I’ll talk about in a later blog. the mill and related components are being renewed by ARCE.   Source – The American Research Center, Egypt [ARCE]

Local men making bread St.Anthony

Local men making bread St.Anthony.  Difficult to explain the activities here, because of angle and lighting of the picture .  Source – Dumbarton Oaks

Monk stamping the Holy Bread St.Anthony

Monk stamping the Holy Bread, St.Anthony.  Coptic stamps are a key part of the production and baking process, having its own meanings that I’ll discuss later.  Source – Dumbarton Oaks

Monks baking the Holy Bread St.Anthony

Monks baking the Holy Bread, St.Anthony.  Source – Dumbarton Oaks

Baking the Holy Bread (Kurban) St.Paul

Baking the Holy Bread,  St.Paul.  Note similarity of the oven and also of the confirmation of the loaves and baking process with St. Anthony, in the above picture.  Source – Dumbarton Oaks

Monks sorting dried grapes,Monastery of St Anthony 1930 DBarton

Monks sorting dried grapes,Monastery of St Anthony 1930.  Important source of little ‘sweets.’ Source –  D.Barton Dumbarton Oaks

Monk roasting coffee St.Anthony

Monk roasting coffee, St.Anthony.  Source – Dumbarton Oaks

Olive oil mill St.Anthony

Olive oil mill, St.Anthony.  Similarly designed mills can be found in other parts of Egypt [excavations] and across North Africa.  Source – Dumbarton Oaks

Refectory St.Anthony

Refectory, St.Anthony.  During meals, readings were given.  Source – Dumbarton Oaks

Group portrait of monks St.Paul

Group portrait of monks, St.Paul.  Source – Dumbarton Oaks

Through adherence to precise rituals associated with making and baking, whether the preparation and baking is found in  Egypt or elsewhere, this holy bread transcends local environmental and cultural characteristics that are generally associated with specific breads and their production.

Just before baking each loaf is pierced five times around the center stamp.  Source - www.st-mary

Just before baking, each loaf is pierced five times around the center stamp, symbolizing the wounds on Christ – who on the loaf is symbolized by the central feature of the stamp.  Source – http://www.st-mary

Coptic qurban, source - danielayad.wordpress.com

Coptic qurban, source – danielayad.wordpress.com

Making qurbaan [Coptic holy bread] – طريقة عمل القربان

The following two videos are on the production of qurbaan. It is interesting that the process not only is highly ritualized, but also that it is conducted by men.  The first video has quite a good description and depiction of how the bread is made – spoken in colloquial Egyptian by a priest, with english subs.

A film of The Red Sea Monasteries of Egypt made during the expedition of Thomas Whittemore to these monasteries:

The first official project undertaken by the Byzantine Institute [Dumbarton Oaks] was the examination and documentation of wall paintings in the Red Sea Monasteries in Egypt, which occurred between 1929 and 1932. Filmed in 1930, the below film was likely recorded during the First Expedition (1929-1930) to the Red Sea Monasteries and it includes scenes from both monasteries of Saint Paul and Saint Anthony.

Source: Dumbarton Oaks

Two expeditions were organized and led by  Thomas Whittemore into the Eastern Desert of Egypt to study the two monasteries discussed in this blog.    I would like to do a later piece on this intriguing figure and his work.

A young Thomas Whittemore.  Source - Dumbarton Oaks

A young Thomas Whittemore. Source – Dumbarton Oaks

Whittemore about the time of the expeditions into the Eastern Desert.  Source - Dumbarton Oaks

Whittemore about the time of the expeditions into the Eastern Desert. Source – Dumbarton Oaks

Whittemore’s expedition, before leaving the Monastery of Saint Anthony, Egypt, 1930-1931

Whittemore’s expedition, before leaving the Monastery of Saint Anthony, Egypt, 1930-1931 .  Source –  Dumbarton Oaks.  I’m trying to put this picture in as the header image, but so far no luck.  Will keep trying….

Thomas Whittemore is perhaps best remembered for founding the Byzantine Institute [at Dumbarton Oaks], an organization that specialized in the study, restoration, and conservation of Byzantine art and architecture, in 1930. Overseeing the Institute’s fieldwork projects and publication efforts until his sudden death in 1950, Whittemore made a name for himself among Byzantinists and art historians alike when he initiated an unprecedented restoration and conservation project at Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey, in December of 1931.

How an English professor and amateur archaeologist from the United States convinced the Turkish government to permit an international team of fieldworkers to restore and conserve the building’s priceless mosaics—to convert what was at the time a mosque into a worksite and subsequently a museum—remains something of a mystery.

So, how did Whittemore make his way to Turkey? How did he, moreover, manage to create and sustain a complex organization like the Byzantine Institute in the midst of the Great Depression, a time in which introversion was the way of the West? Why, for that matter, did he turn his eyes toward Byzantium?

Source – Dumbarton Oaks

FILM SEQUENCE

  • Film starts with general exterior views of the monastery of Saint Paul
  • Men preparing food and performing day-to-day activities
  • Thomas Whittemore [head of the expedition] and unidentified individuals on camels
  • General exterior views of the monastery and surrounding landscape
  • Men digging a waterway
  • Film ends with general views of the surrounding landscape

The Cave Church of St. Paul marks the spot where St. Anthony, “the Father of Monasticism,” and St. Paul, “the First Hermit,” are believed to have met. It is a sacred place representing the very beginning of Christian monasticism.

In 1997, work began at St. Paul’s Monastery to conserve the mill building, refectory and eighteenth-century enclosure wall. This site, visited by Coptic pilgrims as well as tourists interested in the historic attributes of the place, contains vestiges of its past life as a self-sufficient community.

The mill building has special significance as the source of the flour for the bread that is such an important part of the monks’ daily life.

Source Saint Pauls Monastery; Red Sea; ARCE

St_Paul_cover  ARCE

ARCE announces the publication of a new book, “The Cave Church of Paul the Hermit at the Monastery of St. Paul in Egypt,” which is available now through Amazon.com. The volume is co-published by the American Research Center in Egypt and Yale University Press.

The collection of essays written by renowned specialists and edited by William Lyster presents different aspects of the Coptic Monastery of St. Paul on the Red Sea coast of Egypt and of its main church. The church evolved from a rock-cut hermit’s cave as early as the 4th century, and is richly decorated with wall paintings dating from the early 13th to the 18th century.

Source;  The Cave Church of Saint Paul the Hermit

Posted in Bread, Coptic, Cuisine, Egypt-Ancient, Egypt-Recent, Food, Qurbana, St. Anthony, St. Paul | Tagged , , , , , , , | 7 Comments