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Ancient Law: Outside the Norms

Ancient law


Moot Court Room
Old College



University of Edinburgh, Centre for Legal History

Organisers: prof dr Paul J. du Plessis, dr Renske Janssen

The conference Ancient Law: Outside the Norms will explore the broad spectrum of innovative, often interdisciplinary, approaches to the study of ancient law that have emerged in recent years. It aims to bring together scholars working on law and legal thinking throughout the ancient Mediterranean world from a variety of disciplines and perspectives, and is particularly concerned with the way in which ancient law can be studied as a social phenomenon. Topics of discussion will include perceptions of the law in various time periods and geographical areas, law and identity, legal pluralism, religion and law, and the legal experiences of marginalised groups. By taking a broad methodological, temporary and geographical approach, the conference hopes to contribute to further developing the theoretical framework underpinning the study ancient law and create new connections between scholars working in the field.

This conference was part of the project More laws, more problems? The role of (Roman) law in society according to Cornelius Tacitus (project number 019.212SG.010), which is financed by the Rubicon research programme of the Dutch Research Council (NWO). Additional funding for the organisation of the event was provided by the Edinburgh Law School Research and Impact Facilitation Fund.

This event is hybrid and it is open to all but registration is required.

Register to attend in person

Register to attend online  - Day 1

Register to attend online - Day 2


Friday 7 July 2023


10.30 onwards – Gathering and Coffee (Law School, Edinburgh – Moot Court Room)


10.45-11.30                 Paul du Plessis (University of Edinburgh)

                                    Introduction / Keynote: Ancient Law Outside the Norms


11.30-12.15                 Discussion: Ancient Law Research Network


Lunch (90 minutes)


Panel 1 – Law and Identity


13.45-14.30                 Jesse James (Harvard / Columbia University)

Helping Yourself in Trading Places: Syla in Greek International Commerce


14.30-15.15                 Radosław Miśkiewicz (University of Warsaw) 

Legal Imaginary Sphere and Nomothetic Tradition in Late Fifth-Century BCE Athens


Coffee (15 minutes)


15.30-16.15                 Renske Janssen (University of Edinburgh / Leiden University )

Legal Principles: (Re)positioning Rome’s Legal History in Tacitus’ Annals 3.25-28


Coffee (45 minutes)


Panel 2 – Regional Approaches


17.00-17.45                 Lena Fijałkowska (University of Lodz)

Shaping legal change by means of practice in the ancient Near Eastern law


17.45-18.30                 Kyriaco Nikias (University of Vienna)

                                    The Mycenaean evidence and Greek legal history


19.00: Dinner

Saturday 8 July 2023


9.30 onwards – Gathering and Coffee (Law School, Edinburgh – Moot Court Room)


Panel 3 – Pluralism and Parallels 


9.45-10.30                   Paolo Costa (Pontifical Biblical Institute Rome / University of Genoa)

The ἴδιοι νόμοι of the Early Imperial micro-Asiatic cities: The slow path of ‘homogenisation’ in the κοινοὶ νόμοι


10.30-11.15                 Vid Žepič (University of Ljubljana)

                                    Non-pledgeable Property in Ancient Law


Coffee (30 minutes)


Panel 4 – Religion and Law


11.45-12.30                 Patricia Kret (Leiden University)

                                    Judicial amulets: Using amulets in ancient lawsuits


12.30-13.15                 Serena Barbuto (University of Milan)

New perspectives on the relationship between decrees and civic oaths in reconciliation treaties


Lunch (90 minutes)


Panel 5 – Marginalized Identities


14.45-15.30                 Leire Lizarzategui Elu (University of Basque Country)

Change nothing so that everything changes: Organized resistance against fiscal impositions towards roman women


15.30-16.15                 Katharine Huemoeller (University of British Columbia)

Taking a New Perspective: The Delphic Manumission Contracts through the Eyes of Enslaved Viewers


Concluding Remarks (Paul du Plessis & Renske Janssen)

Drinks for those who want to