Section: Seminars and Lectures

Ancient Law in Context (ALC)

Ancient Law in Context  is an interdisciplinary research network comprising scholars from different disciplines who are interested in the interplay between law and society in the ancient Mediterranean. The co-ordinators of this group are Professor Paul J. du Plessis in the School of Law and Dr Ulrike Roth in the School of History, Classics and Archaeology. 

We start from the belief that there are a number of fundamental problems to be addressed: how and how far Roman law and other legal systems provided a framework for, and even perhaps facilitated, economic development, social change and political evolution, and whether that development, change and evolution modified the content and procedures of Roman law and other ancient legal systems; and how the use of legal evidence may lead to a better understanding of ancient societies, and vice versa. While the expertise of the co-ordinators lies within the study of law and society in the Graeco-Roman world, the network aims to include discussion of legal systems also of other parts of the ancient world. 

ALC also provides a forum for doctoral students to undertake research on aspects that fall within the remit of the network. Current students include:

Amy Bratton: Slave and free in the Augustan social legislation

ALC aims to meet as a network once per term to discuss a specific issue within its remit. Our first meeting, on 1-2 June 2012, occupied itself with the question of the relationship between slavery and the law.

 Ancient Law in Context Workshop 3 Image 3Ancient Law in Context Workshop 3 Image 2

Workshop 2: ‘Law and Economy’ 30 November – 1 December 2012 University of Edinburgh (School of Law/School of History, Classics and Archaeology)

Workshop 3: 'Family and Law', 17-18 January 2014. University of Edinburgh (School of Law/School of History, Classics and Archaeology)

Workshop 4:'Citizenship and Law', 17-18 October 2014

Workshop 5: 'Law and Religion', 20-21 March 2015

Workshop 6: 'Procedure', 29-30 January 2016

Workshop 7: 28-29 October 2016

Workshop 8: 'Law and the State', 2-3 June 2017

Workshop 9:  'Law, poverty and wealth', Spring 2018


ALC Meeting 1Ancient Law in Context Workshop 3 Image 1 ALC Meeting 2ALC Meeting 3ALC Citizenship Workshop 4

For more information, contact Professor Paul du Plessis (

We especially welcome inquiries from doctoral students on the following areas:

  • The interplay between law and society in the Roman Republic and early Empire
  • Law, society and the Roman familia
  • Roman slavery and the law
  • Greek slavery and the law
  • The use of Roman law in later legal systems, esp. the use of Roman slave law in early modern slave-owning societies

Fragment of Codex Gregorianus
A fragment from the Codex Gregorianus probably found in the binding of a 16th century book © UCL & AHRC 

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