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08 March 2016

SUMMER SCHOOL: Laws in Antiquity: Law and Legal Systems from Mesopotamia, Egypt, Rome and Byzantium (Amsterdam, 16-30 Jul 2016)


(image source: VU Amsterdam)

Prof. dr. J. Hallebeek (VU Amsterdam) announced the organisation of a summer course aiming at Advanced students of either History or Law; no previous knowledge of the other discipline is required on the subject Laws in Antiquity: Law and Legal Systems from Mesopotamia, Egypt, Rome and Byzantium. The course consists of 46 contact hours (3 ECTS) and comes with a fee of € 1 000.

Course content;
The laws and legal systems governing our lives today have deep historical roots. As early as the third millennium BC, people in Mesopotamia were compiling laws and employing various legal mechanisms. Surviving legal manuals and other sources tell us how the ancient Egyptians regulated sales, loans, donations, marriage and divorce, inheritances and leases. And it was in Roman times that the foundations were laid for the so-called civilian tradition, which still reverberates in the private law of continental Europe, South America and parts of the Far East (Japan, China).
On this course, leading experts on ancient law guide you through the theoretical and historical aspects of these systems and their unique characteristics, focusing on such themes as contracts, delict, property and family law. We begin with general presentations of the different systems, their features and context, before moving on to the study and analysis of exemplary texts (in English translation) in a workshop setting. By the end of the course you will have gained a sense of legal life across several ancient civilizations: the Mesopotamian, Hittite, Egyptian, Roman and Byzantine.
Excursions:
A visit to the Van der Meer-Collection of cuneiform tablets and ancient Near Eastern artefacts at VU University Library and a combined visit to Valkhof Museum (Roman heritage) in Nijmegen and the Roman temples at Elst. (excursion destinations may be subject to change). 
Learning objectives:
  • You will develop a basic sense of the cultural and historical roots of present-day legal reality in Europe and other parts of the world.
  • You will be familiar with the main features of several different legal systems in the ancient world and their cultural background.
  • You will be familiar with cross-cultural research.
  • You will understand the basics of interdisciplinary methodology and thought, in this case combining history and law.
  • You will be familiar with the notion of history, its importance and its relevance to our lives in the present.
Reading material:
Ancient Near Eastern Law Greengus, Samuel (1995), “Legal and Social Institutions of Ancient Mesopotamia”. In: Sasson, Jack M. (ed.), Civilizations of the Ancient Near East (vol. 1), pp. 469-484. New York: Scribner.
Lafont, Sophie (1994), “Ancient Near Eastern Laws: Continuity and Pluralism”. In Levinson, Bernard M. (ed.), Theory and Method in Biblical and Cuneiform Law: Revision, Interpretation and Development, pp. 91-118. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press.
Roth, Martha T. (1997), “Introduction”. In: Roth, Martha T. (ed.), Law Collections from Mesopotamia and Asia Minor (second edition), Writings from the Ancient World 6, pp. 1-10. Atlanta: Scholars Press.
Westbrook, Raymond (2003), “Introduction: The Character of Ancient Near Eastern Law”. In: Westbrook, Raymond (ed.), A History of Ancient Near Eastern Law, Handbuch der Orientalistik 72, pp. 1-90. Leiden: Brill.
Ancient Egyptian Law Selected chapters in: Westbrook, Raymond (ed.) (2003), A History of Ancient Near Eastern Law. Leiden: Brill.
In Vol. I:
Jasnow, Richard , “Old Kingdom and First Intermediate Period”, pp. 93 et seq. (optional);
Jasnow, Richard , “Middle Kingdom and Second Intermediate Period”, pp. 255 et seq. (optional);
Jasnow, Richard , “New Kingdom”, pp. 289 et seq. (mandatory).
In Vol. II:
Jasnow, Richard, “Third Intermediate Period”, pp. 777 et seq. (mandatory);
Manning, Joseph Gilbert, “Demotic Law”, pp. 819 et seq. (mandatory).
Materials on Roman and Byzantine law to be announced at a later date. 
 Apply here.
 Course flyer available here.

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