José Luis Alonso Rodríguez
This chapter deals with the place of papyrology in Roman law studies. While Theodor Mommsen is often quoted as predicting that the twentieth century would be the century of papyrology, things look different today. The publication of papyri continues at a rate of several hundreds per year, with vast amounts waiting to be published. In addition to the large mass of papyri from Egypt, a non-negligible number of documents from the Near East have come to light. Many of these texts are private legal instruments and acts of the Roman administration, including documents arising from legal proceedings. Yet these documents rarely attract the attention of Roman law scholars. As a result, the legal questions posed by the new documents often receive insufficient attention. This chapter argues for a reconsideration of this view and for a renewed focus on papyri as a source for Roman law.
The Ptolemaic kings of Egypt ruled a variety of ethnic groups that were diverse in language, culture, religion, and legal practices. The main themes were tolerance and even the protection of particular legal traditions. By the beginning of the Roman period, changes were under way. The autonomous courts of law had by then ceased to exist. The second century