A village situated in the district of Itsa, south of the Fayyum in the middle of cultivated lands. The ancient town (Coptic, Touton) of the same name was near the desert. It was very probably the site today called Umm al-Barayjat, of which the Greek name was Tebtunis, about 2.5 miles (4 km) south of the present Tutun.
The name of this village occurs quite often in the subscript to Coptic manuscripts, in which the scribes added a prayer at the end of the copy for the donor and the church or monastery to which the manuscript was offered, as well as their own name. The oldest mention of a copyist from Tutun is from 861/862 (Van Lantschoot, 1929, pp. 22-24), and the most recent is from 1014, although in the latter case it is a reader’s note (Hebbelynck and Van Lantschoot, 1937, pp. 510-11). Some donors, natives of the same village, also are mentioned. All these manuscripts—thirteen cataloged by Van Lantschoot (1929)—derive either from the library of the monastery of Dayr al-Malak Mkha’il (Fayyum) or from that of Dayr al-Abyad (Suhaj). They are dated between 861/862 and 940, the most recent being those of Dayr al-Abyad.
It has sometimes been said that these manuscripts were copied in the scriptorium of a monastery at Tutun. However, there is no justification for this statement. A single copyist, the priest Zacharias, presents himself as calligrapher of the monastery of Qalamun (Van Lantschoot, nos. 3 and 4, pp. 6-10). In contrast, none of the copyists native to Tutun presents himself as a monk in a monastery. The name of the village Touton is given only as their place of origin. On the other hand, though these scribes are often clerics, deacons, subdeacons, singers, or even priests, they work in large measure at home. Basil and the deacon Peter are brothers, as are the deacons Stephen and Qalamun. Moses, a deacon, wrote with Menas, a subdeacon, his brother; the deacon Basil, with his son Samuel, also a deacon. There are, however, some isolated copyists: John, brother of the deacon Menas; the deacon Matthew; the deacon Peter (perhaps the brother of Basil); and the priest Theodorus, son of the deacon Luke.
The donors said to be natives of Tutun are not described by the title of monk, as is done in the colophons numbered 51, 52, and 53 (Van Lantschoot, pp. 78-86), all three donors of which bore the name Shenute and offered the manuscripts to the monastery of Shenute (Dayr al-Abyad) at Suhaj, a very long way from Tutun. It seems thus much more probable that the scriptoria of Tutun were small family workshops or those of individual copyists.
Outside of Tutun, there were copyists native to and no doubt also residing in the following towns and villages of the Fayyum: Miktol, Perpnoute, and Ptepouhar.
- Hebbelynck, A., and A. Van Lantschoot. Codices coptici Vaticani. Codices Coptici. Vatican City, 1937.
- Lantschoot, A. van. Recueil des colophons des manuscrits chrétiens d’Egypte. Vol. 1, Les colophons coptes des manuscrits sahidiques. Bibliothèque du Muséon 1. Louvain, 1929.
- Petersen, T. “The Paragraph Mark in Coptic Illuminated Ornament.” In Studies in Art and Literature for Belle da Costa Green. Princeton, N.J., 1954.