|| This substantial piece preserves the complete verbatim report
of complex legal proceedings held before the senior municipal official
in Oxyrhynchus whose name (Flavius) Leucadius is given in a docket on the
back (not shown). It is written down the roll, an early example of this
common mediaeval format.
A special interest attaches to the date; it can be calculated that
2 October AD 325 was a Saturday. A decade or so earlier, government
officials took Thursdays off. Here towards the
end of the document (lines 36 ff.), at a time that can be calculated
as around 5.40 p.m., it is announced that since the next day was the
Lords Day, the hearing would be resumed on the day following.
This text is both the earliest reference to the Lords Day in
papyri and the earliest practical attestation of Sunday observance.
That goes back to an edict of the emperor Constantine in AD 321, but
the history of imperial dynastic events meant that Constantines
edict would not have been effective in Egypt until late 324, a year
before the date of this papyrus.
These proceedings were written on waste paper: on the back (not
visible in the Ashmolean exhibition, but shown here) are seven columns
of declarations of commodity prices by some of the local guilds six
years before, part of a failed attempt by the government to control
The Oxyrhynchus Papyri vol.LIV no.3759