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Call for Papers – Ancient Law: Outside the Norms

Fri 24 February 2023

legal history

University of Edinburgh, Centre for Legal History

Organisers: Prof Paul J. du Plessis, Dr Renske Janssen

7th & 8th July 2023 

In recent years, the study of ancient law has undergone a remarkable resurgence, especially in Anglophone academia. An increased interest in the connections between law and its wider societal context has led to a variety of new, often interdisciplinary, approaches, which tend to view law not as the exclusive domain of legal experts, both ancient and modern, but instead as a broader social phenomenon. These approaches have not sought to deny the importance of the study of legal doctrine which remains the currency of any legal system. Instead, beyond legal doctrine, they have focused also on other forces (whether social, economic, or political) which have contributed to legal change, and on the different manners in which they have done so. As a result, a greater deal of attention has come to be devoted to the ways in which law was applied in practice and was shaped and experienced by a significantly wider group of people.  

This conference is intended to explore this broad spectrum of alternative, innovative ways of studying ancient law, and aims to bring together scholars working on law and legal thinking throughout the ancient Mediterranean world from a variety of disciplines and perspectives. Subjects of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • Legal pluralism and law in the periphery
  • Non-elite dealings with ancient law
  • Emerging trends in legal scholarship, including law and literature
  • Law from pre Greco-Roman Egypt, Assyria and Babylonia

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.

We warmly invite interested speakers to submit abstracts for 30-minute presentations to by 1 April 2023. Abstracts should be submitted in a Word of PDF file using the subject line ‘Ancient Law: Outside the Norms’, and should be a maximum of 500 words in length (excluding bibliography). Speakers will be selected on the basis of the academic merit of their abstracts, and their relevance to the theme of the conference. For speakers without institutional funding, a contribution to travel expenses may be available.

Any questions may likewise be addressed to