An 1,800-year-old letter from an Egyptian soldier serving in a Roman legion far from home has been translated by an American student, revealing a homesick man offended by a lack of communication from his family.
The letter, written mostly in Greek, was found in an 1899 archaeological expedition in the ancient Egyptian city of Tebtunis, but was neglected for many years due to its state of deterioration, which made it exceedingly difficult to decipher.
But religious-studies major Grant Adamson of Rice University managed to crack the text, the Independent reported Friday.
“I pray that you are in good health night and day, and I always make obeisance before all the gods on your behalf. I do not cease writing to you, but you do not have me in mind,” the letter says.
“You never wrote to me concerning your health, how you are doing. I am worried about you because although you received letters from me often, you never wrote back to me so that I may know how you (are).
“I sent six letters to you. The moment you have me in mind, I shall obtain leave from the consular (commander), and I shall come to you so that you may know that I am your brother,” the soldier writes. “For I demanded nothing from you for the army, but I fault you because although I write to you, none of you…has consideration.”
Adamson says the writer, Aurelius Polion, was probably stationed in Aquincum — Budapest of Today. He said he estimated the letter was written in the 3rd century due to its writing style, as well as the soldier’s name.
“Because it was in such bad shape, no one had worked much on it for about 100 years,” Adamson said.