15. PSI XII 1266
34.8 x 30.7 cm
Apollonopolis, AD 675/6 or 660/1
The papyrus, a fragment of which is preserved in Cairo, is from the archive of Papas, pagarch of Apollonopolis (Edfu). His pagarchy (a geographic-administrative unit in Late Byzantine/early Arab Egypt) was subject to the duke of the Thebaid, which was represented by one of his lieutenants when the duke was away from Antinoë, the capital city. This letter was sent to Papas by the lieutenant. Caulkers, forced labourers sent from various districts to the shipyards of Babylon (Fustat–Cairo) to waterproof boat hulls, faced such harsh working conditions that they escaped, returning to their villages or fleeing to other pagarchies. According to the circular, the pagarchs were not to let a single caulker from their district get away or they would be forced to pay 1000 solidi and possibly face the death penalty. The pagarchs were required to capture the men and confine them to prison boats, where they would serve their sentences. Furthermore, if they captured caulkers from other districts, they were to send them to Antinoë in irons.