Three texts describing labouring jobs in a Coptic monastery – translated by Anthony Alcock

Anthony Alcock has translated three Coptic texts which give instructions on manual labour to be undertaken within a monastery; at harvest, in the bakery, etc.  It’s here:

This is very useful, precisely because it is not an “exciting” text.  But it gives a clear picture of an important aspect of monastic life.  Thank you, Dr Alcock, for so generously making these translations available.

2 thoughts on “Three texts describing labouring jobs in a Coptic monastery – translated by Anthony Alcock

  1. The bread text would probably be very interesting to people who bake and have an interest in historical food. I would suggest that the ambiguities in that text really should be brought to a baker. Probably you would want someone who has baked bread with that ancient Roman or Egyptian wheat or barley, which I think also got used a lot in Egypt.

    I know that there used to be small round loaves like rolls (Greek pyramous, wheat cake/roll) as well as other sizes and shapes. And I imagine that differences in bread texture (spongy, hard, chewy, crumbly) would be a big deal when you mostly eat bread and water.

    Re: reinforcing the banks with twigs, I wonder if some very small plants are being washed into the ditches, or if it’s just a case of “you’re dirty already, so you might as well weed, too.”

    Again, I suspect that talking to agricultural folks who deal with irrigation would probably clear the textual problem up.

  2. That’s well thought out. Technical texts are always hard to work with, because the translator needs to understand both the jargon and the subject.

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