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The Life of a 4th Century A.D. Egyptian Vineyard Guard

A recently translated document, written in Greek on papyrus, gives a glimpse into the profession of vineyard guard back in 4th Century AD Egypt. Live Science details the work of University of Cincinnati doctoral student Kyle Helms. His translation of a document that had be sitting dormant for almost 100 years offers a window into a vineyard guard's duties from about 1,700 years ago.

The emphasis, as the text on the papyrus reveals, is on protecting grapes as they ripen and the harvest approaches. "I agree that I have made a contract with you on the condition that I guard your property, a vineyard near the village Panoouei, from the present day until vintage and transport, so that there be no negligence, and on the condition that I receive in return for pay for all of the aforementioned time …" (Unfortunately, that's all that remains of this artifact.)

Helms also notes that being a vineyard guard at this time was fraught with danger. It was not uncommon for those holding the position to be savagely beaten by would-be thieves with their eyes on ripe grapes.



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