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date: 26 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explores the importance of writing in the legal practices of the Greek poleis. After discussing writing materials and kinds of documents, illustrating the different functions documents on the same media could have and the problems in tracing ancient archives and reconstructing the role they played in the mechanisms of public administration, it concentrates on two case studies: written records concerning land transactions (in particular registers of sales) and the role of written documents in Athenian judicial procedures. It argues that the impact of written documents on the legal sphere and in establishing fair social relations within the polis was much more significant than is generally recognized.

Keywords: Literacy, written documents, commercial law, legal procedure, orality

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