Thursday, December 15, 2011

Written in Stone: Epigraphy, the Codex Iustinianus, and the Geography of Roman Petition and Response

Quacunque enim ingredimur in aquila historia vestigum imponimus.
[Wherever we step, we tread on one or another scene of history]
--Cicero, De Finibus, 5.5

This project centers around the epigraphy of Roman land ownership and environmental law, such as agrarian and water rights, and their relationship to the Codex of Justinian. Although the Codex records many of the imperial rescripts relating to these subjects, it does not contain most of the petitions that these recripts were written in response to. To look closely at this one must turn to legal records that have not been edited, shortened on interpreted by late-antique and medieval scribes and jurists. The only documents of this type are found in legal inscriptions, most of which survive from North Africa and the Middle East.

These inscriptions, when looked at through a more geographic lense, show regional variations in legal practice and shed light on how the Romans adapted themselves to differences in environment and the agricultural practises of the native populations in the provinces.

My research will consist in looking through the vast and very understudied collections of inscriptions from museums in Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, and other collections, along with writing geographical commentaries on some of the more famous inscriptions like Henchir Mettich, (pictured above in a photo I took in the storeroom of the Bardo in Tunis), Lamasba (Ain Merawa) and Aga Bey Koyu from the Usak Museum, along with many more.