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Stoyanova M.

Pap. Berol. Copt 8316. about the meaning of απεϊ from a technical point of view*

The myriad of Coptic textile collections built up in the last centuries' periodically proposes the question of their management, conservation and restoration In order to establish chemical nature of employed materials as to improve exhibition area conditions and conservation treatment, several preservation studies were carried out on them. Thus together with the broader historical background regarding the renown textile production of the Copts, in the last years a more detailed technical information has been stored up It already constitutes an effective precondition to take insights into the specific dyeing methods and materials of these artefacts 2

However results obtained up to now from archaeological textiles regard exclusively the fibres some of the employed natural dyestuffs, mordants and weaving techniques, yet not all and not at all the sequences in which different treatments were practised during dyeing Furthermore, it should be made clear that the analysis of the final products alone could never be sufficient to reconstruct the fabrication proceedings such information can be extrapolated primarily from written sources

Notwithstanding the growing body of literature documenting ancient dyeing treatises and all kind of notices upon historic dyestuff praxes and materials as well as the numerous experiments aiming to check their feasibility, a great deal of the sources has yet not been empirically tested and many links in the chain of material and linguistic culture involved are still wanted In spite of today's scientific progress in organic chemistry, botanic, analytics, measurement instruments' technology etc , character and algorithm of the complex micro chemical reactions occurring during dyeing with natural organic materials still represent "a dark picture". That's why, every possibility to deepen into their logic is of extreme interest.

Pap Berol Copt 8316 offers properly such an occasion It has preserved one of the very few Coptic texts concerning the preliminary proceeding and dyeing of wool3 Part of a dossier discovered in the Fayyum oasis and dated about the 8th century, it consists of an unique leaf on both sides of which the contiguous phases of a dyeing recipe for wool are displayed Actually preserved in the Egyptian Museum of Berlin, it was acquired for the Kaiser's collection in 1895 from Reinhart 1904 the original was first published and partially translated by Crum in BKU, I, & 21 4.

My first intimation with the papyrus was from a short notice in Brunello's L'arte della tintura5, who relates it to the well known Greek papyrus codex deposited in the Royal library of Stockholm (P gr Holm ) and composed of 159 recipes on scouring, mordanting and dyeing of wool, as well as colouring and faking of precious stones 6.

Even thought expressed by one of the most competent Italian specialists in art techniques and applied chemistry, this comparison has to be re-evaluated and its consistence limited to the way of treatment only as no one of the dyestuffs employed in P.gr.Holm. repeats those of the Coptic recipe7. Nevertheless, Brunello's merit to have drown attention to this important document, almost thoroughly inaccessible and misunderstand for more than hundred years, can not be dismissed

Linguistically, the main typological characteristic of technical treatises is their composition consisting of a base - a less or more extensive description of the proceeding in a determined language, on the one hand, and a "polyglot" compound covering the names of the employed materials which may be local or imported, on the other Thus, the equipment necessary for the translation of such documents goes, far beyond the competence of a philologist only and requires coordinated research by specialists in history of material culture, history of commerce, of art techniques, local languages and dialects (the disappeared ones included), conservation, chemistry etc However, the key problem is to understand and, respectively, to demonstrate, from which language the unknown term could have been imported and to what kind of modulation it might have been subjected during its sojourn in intermediate milieus Finally, an empiric testing of the advanced hypothesis shoutd be more than susceptible

On the bulk of all these insuperable at the time obstacles, Erman, in his note on P.Berol.Copt. 8316 published in 1899 could only call "charlatan" the author of the ingenious recipe, recognising, in the same occasion, not to be able to preview its practical outcome because not competent enough in matters of dyeing8

With tune the lack of knowledge pertaining to the specific technical, philological and historical matters has been overwhelmed and now it is clearly seen that, like the Coptic medical treatises, this recipe, too, is thoroughly feasible even very pragmatic and there is any charlatanry in it9. After the translation of Layton, the only enigma of the Berliner papyrus remain the substances from which the dyestuff and some additives are extracted and for which no Coptic parallels are known up to now. In the past, several attempts to decode their meaning have been made but only on regard of the word απεϊ some proposals were advanced: Crum circumscribes its meaning with dyestuff 10, while Loret is convinced that this is a transformation of the Greek name for madder 11.

The First option - a non specified dyestuff or dyestuff in general - is not convincing in a text aimed to furnish directions for use of the dyes on sale. Mentioned as a single substance on line 12, 28 and 37, on line 21 απεϊ follows ϲεκτ after a sign (/γ) which can not be associated but with "and" (αγω) inferring that these are two different matters and not yet again the same dyestuff as proposed in precedent translations.

The second option - madder - is also to reject for a series of reasons (some of them already outlined in our comment upon the Coptic recipe, cf. Stoyanova, "Denominazioni", 266-267).

Among lite most important is the fact that Loret's supposition ignores thoroughly the meaning and function of the other two unknown dyestuffs as well as the compatibility of απεϊ with them and with the described dyeing process as a whole.

Moreover, since Egypt is in Africa and Greek and Arabic have not been the only languages familiar to Copts, a comparison with local names of dyeing plants in N-E Africa has been carried out. It demonstrated that, instead of απεϊ, phonetically ϲεκτ is closer to some African denominations of madder 12.

Another inadmissible conjecture developed by Loret in this same article is his these about the Semitic names of madder and respectively of their common root, pw-fw. whose Hebrew form should not have reached to us, however, properly a Hebrew k prosthesis as appearing in other plant names might be in the origin of the Coptic opi-api ,or, more exactly, of its Egyptian prototype. He bases his affirmation on four manuscripts bringing detailed evidence of the drugs familiar to Copts and Arabs: One of the terms listed there closely reminds απεϊ from the Berliner papyrus 13.

Up to present day, these remarkable collections have never been object of an apposite study and almost never mentioned by other scholars, indeed. Neither their date and earliest prototype are established nor the pnnciple after which the different items are ordered. Before taking them into consideration as a comparative base, the reliability and level of correspondence between Coptic and Arabic terms, as well as their etymology must be explored. Of sure, the systematical principles of the "Scala magna" are far of being comparable to a modem dictionary and, hence, the synoptic equivalents displayed there can not be taken literary as Loret did.

In the four "Scala magna" transcriptions he examines, the lemmata opion-opia-alithriten follow immediately one after another in a table listing alongside various botanical species also the names of apothecary/ medicinal substances Thus, in Athanasius Kircheri's Latin translation of the "Scala magna" preserved in ms. copt. 72 of the Vatican library 14, on page 183, we find the striking indication that the Coptic opion means in the same time phu, opium and valeriana in Latin, respectively opia -phu and alithriten phu, while the Arabic equivalent for all these different names is always fuwwa . Furthermore, in the index on the end of the section not all the Latin terms are listed: phu and valeriana are there, opia and opion not.

The more plausible explanation for the classification of opion as valeriana and opium together, although extracted from different plants, could well be the changing systematic principle after which the items are ordered. To similar instances in other Coptic medicinal treatises, where concrete botanic species are numbered with more common names of utile substances, draws attention Walter Till15. The phenomenon is quite frequent in medieval apothecary and medicinal texts, indeed, but doubt remains as to the meaning of the Arabic fuwwa . Mr. Riesterer kindly shared with me his observation that in a series of older European-Arabic dictionaries fuwwa does not designate madder, but "perfume" or "fragrance" in general. This fact is of key importance as, complementary to the above, it confirms that opion ,. opia. and apia do not stay for concrete botanic species and therefore not for madder, but for (well) smelling substances.

Additional support to this as to Loret's unconvincing thesis about the Hebrew name for madder provide some modem Hebrew dictionaries where one finds following equivalents for madder: pu'ah (closely resembling phuwwg ) and shoresh (indicating literary root of plant)16.

In all modern European languages the name of madder contains an "r":

brosh , marena (Bulg.), έρεθρύδανον, έρεθρόδανον (Gr.), morena barvirska (Czech.), festo buzer (Ung.), meerkrapp (Holl.), krapp (Norw.), marzanna barvierska (Poln.), ruiva des tintureiros (Portug.). robia, garanza, roza (Ital.), garance (Fr.), rubia, granza, roja (Span.), roiba (Rum.), marena krassil'naja (Russ.), rreze ngjyronjese (Alban.), marena farbiarska (Sloven.), broc (Serbo-Croat.), krappi (Finnl.), krapp (Swedish).

There are all the reasons, both linguistic and historical, to consider the Hebrew shoresh in the origin of the Bulgarian brosh . the Serbo-Croatian and Albanian forms at least. But it is almost certain that the Italian "roza", referred to in some of the oldest Italian dyeing treatises from the 15th century17, is another relative of the Hebrew prototype.

An other interesting witness bears the Armenian form toron l8, whose etymology yet has not been explored.

Karl Steuerwald, in his Deutsch-Turkisches Worterbuch indicates under Krapprot "kokboyasi" [i without point]; "alizarin". After Winfried Riesterer, "kokboyasi" seems to be rather more from Persian or Turkish than from Arabic origin.

The probability that απεϊ means madder is further limited by the circumstance that its main dyestuff, the alizarin, presented in different madder species, is always fixed on alum mordant, only by dyeing with Rubia Tinctonum, occasionally, on ferrous salts and tannins, and no one of the words in the papyrus signifies alum or any other appropriate for madder mordanting substance 19. All the dyeing principles of madder are anthraquinone derivatives. These and the components of other natural dyes are characterised in Thompson's comprehensive work on natural colouring matters and in Schweppe's more recent Handbuch 20.

Rubia Tinctorum is not endemic in Egypt; it was imported there from Central Asia 21 and it is thoroughly logically to suppose that, on place of this expensive foreign dyestuff, other local substances were also used for red dye. It is known that in Ancient Egypt Brazil wood (delivered from East Anatolia and Central Asia) and cinnabar (HgS, natural or artificially obtained in China and Egypt since 3rd millennium BC) were among the most common red pigments. The last, mixed with wax, could be the "ypi" in papyrus Lansing IV, 5-7 while with the tanning substance "bbw" most probably Brazil wood, abundant on tannins, is intended and not madder, which is pure of them. Madder contains dyeing, not tanning substances (cf. Schweppe, Handbuch , under the respective voices).

Besides, there is also no obvious reason to accept Loret's association of pw-fw with the Arabic name for madder because, as well known, this name is al-lizari22.

Concerning the meaning of alithriten occurring in the Scala magna manuscripts, we would like to report another, more plausible for this case substance, phonetically not less similar than έρεθρύδανον: altith . called also antilh (Arabic) or longo , longara (Indian). Ainuden . angeidan should be the name of the plant where the liquor of this gum is collected, however it's identity is quite uncertain. Avicenna calls it altith&aboubarut 23, this fragrant gum is signed also by Gerardo Cremonese and by Serapione24. Most probably, a lot of other phonetic parallels could be adduced, but their effective link with the respective term in the "Scala magna" must be unequivocally demonstrated, and this is beyond the limits of the present article.

This paper offers a rather different interpretation of the word απεϊ, arguing that the only correct method for the understanding of its meaning is the complex approach including, beside the polyglot comparative analysis, also technical and historical considerations. However, it implies a further re-examination of the text by Coptic language specialists, particularly of lines 1-4 and 9-27, because actually Erman's and Layton's translations allow two different readings. Here the key passage 9-27 after Layton (Cf. Layton, "The soul", 168):

"9 You put a small quantity of barley together with the wool until they boil You take a small quantity of dye-stuff from the crushed dye-stuff and bind it upon the edge of the material in the cauldron, the material which has been loosened and found to be receptive of dye.

14 Remove the cauldron for a while, and hang it (viz, the material) up until it has dripped, and lake it to the river and have them wash it, and spread it out and let it dry, and crush the dye stuff well and put it into water at evening, together with a small quantity of iron nails.

23 Early in the morning you put the water on the stove, the quantity of water equal to the stone, and light a fire under it until it becomes hot and boils

27 You remove it and pour it into the vessel, and put half of the dye-stuff into the boiling water..."



* Thanks to the collaboration of M.A. Winfried Riesterer (Bayerische Staatsbihliothek, Orient und Ostasienabteilung) for the Arabic Persian and Turkish languages

1 For bibliographical references on Coptic textiles and their fabrication cf. the web sites: www.lib.umich.edu/area/Near...., www.cmnh.org/collections/cul..., www.calacademy.org/research/....

2 The most updaled study on die matter is the article by Trojanowicz et al. "Chromatographic investigation 115-130.

3 I m very indebted to Prof Tito Orlandi, Rome, for the assistance to trace the localisation and later publications regarding the manuscript as well as for the encouragement to bring forward my specific research in a language I'm not very familiar with Similar acknowledgements I want to offer to Prof. В. Layton - the first and only one up to now who have had the scholarship to confront the entire text of the papyrus (cf. Layton, "The soul", 168-169). It should have been impossible for me to reconstruct and analyze the technical proceeding described there without the great advantage I derived from this translation.

As far as I know, to the present this is the only one Coptic document referring to textile dyeing The yet not translated alchemical papyri published by Ludwig Stem, for example, of extreme interest (hey too, mirror other handicraft techniques However besides the incognito of the yet unfulfilled or inaccessible catalogues matching the already existing collections, in the last decades a lot of new Coptic papyri have been discovered As their publications and readings are still in course, general conclusions for the moment would be out of place.

4 Following numeration by pages, Crum's publication is sometimes cited "BKU I, 19" Further bibliographic references in Beltz, "Katalog" under I524C I would like to thank also Dr. Ingrid Muller, Egyptian Museum, Berlin, for having confirmed the correspondence of the original to its transcription in BKU I, 21 As personally seeing it has not been possible for me, her statement assumes the value of an authentication Grateful acknowledgements also to the Abteilung Historische Drucke", National Library Berlin, to M. A. Wirifried Riesterer, "Orientabteilung" of the Bavarian National Library, to Dr. Goran Baamhielm, Manuscript Departement of the Royal Library of Stockholm, to the "Scienze dell'antichita" Departement Library of the Bologna University to Dr. Jonas Tarakegn, Goethe Institute Library in Adis Abeba, to Frau Anegrete Marx, former Ethiopian Museum Aachen - for having provided me with copies of rare and indispensable for this study documents publications and bibliographical references

5 Brunello L arte delta tintura, 124. Regrettably his observation is not supported by any bibliographical reference

6 Halleux, Les alchimtstes grecs. The original of the papyrus is available on line at the site of the Stockholm National Library (www.kb.se)

7 Stoyanova, "Denominazioini", 274

8 Erman/Krebs, "Wissenschaft", 255 256 "Ein Mittel zum Puipurfarben."

9 Stoyanova, "Denominaziom", 269-72

10 Crum, A Coptic Dictionary, under απεϊ

11 Loret, "Orcanetle et garance", 28-32, and Layton, "The soul", 167 n. 42.

12 Tournerie, Colour , 93.

13 Letet, "Orchanette", 29 n.4.

14 Kircher, Lingua, 183

15 Till, "Eine koptische Rezeptensammlung", 70

16 Arlom, Vocabolario , 669; Levenston/Sivan, The Megiddo Modern Dictionary, 656; The Oxford English-Hebrew Dictionary. 543. I'm indebted for all these references to the chair for Hebrew language of the Venice University directed by Prof. G. Tamani, particularly to Dr.Adrians.Stama, Dr. Ehsa Carandina and Dr. Paolo Lucca.

17 The treatise of Bartholomew for example, an author of suspected Jewish origin, cf. Rebora, Un munuole under "roza"

18 Cf. Ciakciak, Nuovo Dizionario Italiano-Armeno Turco and Dizionario Italo-Armeno

19 But then the resulting colours are very dark and not brilliant, cf. Boehmer, Koekboya 101 and 117

20 Thompson, Naturally Occurring Quinones Schweppe, Handbuch (under respective voices) The natural red dye madder, a vegelable dye produced by Rubia Tinctorum is common to Europe and the Middle East and contains mainly alizarin as well as purpurin, pseudopurpurin munjistin, and rubiadin, cf. Wouters/Verhecken, "High-Perfonnanee Liquid Chromatography", 119 128

21 Boehmer Koekboya 116.

22 Bol'shaja sovetskaja enziklopedia, vol. 1, 276.

23 Da Orta, Della storia, ch. 3, 16

24 Da Orta, Della storia, ch 3, 15

Journal of Coptic Studies 10(2008) 99-112 doi: 10.2143-JCS.10.0.2030848

Stoyanova M.

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