CAIRO – 16 December 2021: The joint Egyptian-German archaeological mission discovered more than 13,000 ostraca dating back to the Ptolemaic era, the beginning of the Roman era, the Coptic era and the Islamic era, during excavations in the archaeological area of Sheikh Hamad near the Temple of Atribes, west of Sohag Governorate.
Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities Mostafa Waziri said that these ostraca (pottery potsherds) bear Demotic, Hieratic and Hieroglyphic scripts, as well as Greek, Coptic and Arabic ones. He stressed the importance of this discovery, as it provides an opportunity to study the economic life of the city of Atribes, and the dealings of the city's residents during ancient times.
According to Waziri, the discovery also highlights the importance of the archaeological site as the second most important source of the discovered ostraca after Deir el-Madina, west of Luxor. The writings refer to the financial transactions that took place during this period, such as cash, wheat and bread accounts, and they also contained lists of the names of a number of people and their families.
For his part, Christian Leites, the German head of the mission, explained that the members of the mission are examining and studying the ostraca carefully to get to know the community and its activities in that important period in the history of Egypt, as the writings on some of the ostraca show it is possible they belong to a school for teaching Demotic, Hieratic, Hieroglyphic and Greek.
Professor Mohamed Abdel Badie, head of the Central Administration of Upper Egypt, indicated that the mission also reached a number of Greek ostraca dating back to the end of the Roman era or the Byzantine era (the period from the third century to the sixth century AD). It also continued to exist even after the Arab conquest of Egypt (the period from the seventh century to the ninth century AD).
It is worth noting that Atribes is one of the ancient archaeological cities of the ninth region of Upper Egypt. It is located on the west bank of the Nile, near the desert edge, about 7 km southwest of Sohag.