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Consulting prescriptions from receptaria of earlier medical writers, no doubt many of these same doctors also gathered recipes, jotting down a new therapeutic medicaments. The receptarium is composed of medicinal recipes. It is this very repetitiveness which makes it possible to read more in the recipes.  Another extensive receptarium with prescriptions for medicating dermatological conditions is PSI X 1180 recto = MP3 2421.

The ingredients for this recipe begin at the bottom of column with the metal burnt copper, often appearing first among the items to be compounded in this collection of recipes. For the spaces are articulating questions (erôtêmata), either centered at mid-column, or indented from left, and responses. That is to say, what can be read of the text shows beyond doubt that it belongs to the genre of medical definitions, and, in particular, its catechistic type – the erôtapokrisis.

Their topics have included ophthalmology, anatomy, gynaecology, pathology, and surgery.


1-2. Etymology–General Linguistic Section.

Both receptaria are likely to have been compiled in an Egyptian context, and the copies we possess may well have copied by scribes in Tebtunis. This receptarium was part of a large number of rolls in both Greek and Egyptian languages. PSI X 1180 recto expands the theme of adaptation of recipes to an Egyptian environment.

The ingredients for this recipe begin with the metal burnt copper, often appearing first among the items to be compounded in this collection of recipes.

The claim made for this chlora – that is inimitable – is also met in a collyrium stamp. The was once in possession of Gaius Tittius Balbinus (CIL XIII 10021 = [181]).

The main lectional aid is the punctuation that divides the text through paragraphus and on-line blank space of three to five letters, followed in most instances by ekthesis of the succeeding line. Eight paragraphus-strokes are visible, and a ninth has apparently been worn away. Similar divisions apparently appear twice in col. II, although loss of the left margin has removed the paragraphus-strokes themselves.

By the time Celsus considers diseases of the head, the condition not only has a name – ‚which the Greeks call hydrocephalus‘ – but it occurs in chronic and acute forms that apparently have been numbered, as Celsus refers to the chronic one ‚listed second‘ (quod secundo loco positum est). This latter type is defined as occurring when a humor inflates the scalp (ubi umor cutem inflat), but the swelling yields to pressure;

B. TESTIMONIA - A selection of representative sources

The Hippocratic author of De morbis II 15 was aware of ‚water on the brain‘ (ὕδωρ ἐπὶ τῷ ἐγκεφάλῳ, chapter 15, VII 26–28 Littré).

Galen, De comp. sec. loc. VIII (XII 761.10 Kühn): Ἀνίκητος ἀστὴρ πρὸς περιωδυνίας, φλυκτίδας, σταφυλώματα, ἕλκη ῥυπαρὰ καὶ νεμόμενα.

Pseudo-Galen, Introd. 20 (XIV 770 K): χαλάζωσις δέ ἐστι περιφερῆ τινα ἔνδοθεν τοῦ βλεφάρου ἐπάρματα περιγεγραμμένα, ἐοικότα τῇ χαλάζῃ.

Paulus Aegineta employs crocodile dung in a kollyrion (III 22.24 [CMG IX.1, 181 Heib.]) and in a medicament for skin eruptions (IV 3.1 = CMG IX.1, 323 Heib.); for crocodilea, derived from the intestines of the land crocodile and used by Roman matrons to make the complexion clear and luminous, see Horace, Epode 12.10–1, Acron (explicator of Horace 496 Hauthal), Pliny the Elder, NH XXVIII 108–9, and Galen, Simpl. X 29 (XII 308).

Both Dioscurides, Mat. med. V 109.5 (III 81 W: κροκοδειλοδήκτοις), and Paulus Aegineta V 25 (CMG IX.2, 23 Heib.), speak of remedies for those bitten by crocodiles, but seems an addendum lexicis. Aetius XIII 6 describes the care of those bitten by crocodiles, including the notion that should the crocodile enter the house of a man he has bitten and urinate on the bite, the man dies

Galen explains that a plaster is labeled Ἀνίκητος due to its many miraculous properties.


Both P.Tebtunis II 273 verso and PSI X 1180 recto are receptaria. PSI X 1180 recto expands the theme of adaptation of recipes to an Egyptian environment, noted above for PTebt II 273 with its concern for bites of asps and crocodiles (iv 26–7), in that X 1180 reveals penetration of Egyptian materia medica into a receptarium composed in Greek.

It seems likely that the priests of Soknebtunis were not only practicing medicine, but were also reading medical texts in Greek, in addition to medical texts in Egyptian language.
In the case of Tebtunis, there is considerable evidence that priests associated with the temple of Soknebtunis, crocodile-god of the Fayum, feed the resident sacred crocodiles on a daily basis and encourage ancient tourists to do likewise, as part of their memorable experiences when visiting the Fayum. The bites of the asp and attacks from the crocodile, however, exemplify adaptation for an Egyptian environment.


Elisabeth R. O'Connell, Recontextualizing Berkeley's Tebtunis Papyri, in Proceedings of the 24th International Congress of Papyrologists, Helsinki, 1–7 August 2004, J. Frosen, T. Purola, E. Salmenkivi (edd.) (Comm.Hum.Litt. Vol. 122:1–2, Helsinki 2007) II, 807–26, presents evidence that the higher T-numbers indicate papyri found by Grenfell & Hunt in the ruins of the town proper, while the lower T-numbers indicate those found within the temple complex, see especially pages 818–9.

For discussion of the Egyptian cult of the sacred crocodile and the cemetery of mummified crocodiles at Tebtunis, see A.M.F.W. Verhoogt, Menches, Komogrammateus of Kerkeosiris (= P.Lugd.Bat. XXIX) 7–21, and especially pages 9–10, for the feeding of crocodiles.

E. CPGM reference(s)

GMP II 5: receptarium (published by Ann Ellis Hanson). TMP 92-118 (PSI X 1180 fr. A-Q).


Isabella Andorlini

Accepted term: 20-Ago-2014