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Two Sides of the Same Coin: Dispute Resolution in Greco-Roman and Late Antique Egypt International C

Family squabbles, fights over real estate, disputes over money transactions and assault cases were no less complex to resolve in Antiquity than they are in the modern world. The unique evidence from Egypt (more than 59,000 papyri and 44,000 ostraca) shows a wide variety of mechanisms that could be used to settle interpersonal disputes and to maintain social order within the country. Most of the evidence comes from petitions, official correspondence and reports of court proceedings, which have been the subject of renewed attention in recent years and which give us primarily insight into the day-to-day operation of the legal system and the experiences of the people involved with it. Despite this wealth of information, papyri only offer us snapshots of the disputing process: though some documents record previous decisions made by officials or previous actions taken by victims, the outcome of a dispute is seldom known. This raises several questions concerning the prevailing legal procedures, the length of time that passed before a ‘final’ decision was reached, the government’s ability to enforce legal decisions, and the subversive ways in which the legal system could be used. According to sociologists, however, the legal system represents only one side of the coin: attempts could also be made to settle disputes privately, with no involvement of officials, for instance by coercion, negotiation and mediation. These private processes of dispute resolution, which are also referred to as ‘self-help’ or ‘personal justice’, are more difficult to discern, because they are not systematically documented in juristic papyri, which constitute the majority of the evidence from Egypt. Documents such as petitions, private correspondence, oracle questions and curse tablets nevertheless offer a rich data set for studying – at least partially – disputing processes that took place ‘in the shadow of the law’ and the institutions that underpinned and strengthened these processes (such as social norms, religion, family values, …). The aim of this conference is to bring together scholars working on dispute resolution from different angles (petitioning, law, law enforcement, social norms, religion, …) and different fields (papyrology, legal history, sociology, linguistics, …) in order to study the phenomenon of ‘social control’ in Egypt, defined here as all those resources available by which the government attempted to maintain law and order and by which people attempted to resolve conflicts and to assure the norm-conforming behaviour of others, with a particular focus on the transformation of the disputing process between the age of the Ptolemies and the Theodosians. We welcome both papers on dispute resolution in general and papers discussing specific documents, cases or stages of the disputing process.

FECHA/DATE/DATA: 29-30/06-01/07/2016

LUGAR/LOCATION/LUOGO: Faculteit Letteren, KU Leuven (Leuven, Belgium)

ORGANIZADOR/ORGANIZER/ORGANIZZATORE: Prof. Dr. Katelijn Vandorpe (KU Leuven); Dr. Sofie Waebens (KU Leuven)

INFO: call - web -

INSCRIPCIÓN/REGISTRATION/REGISTRAZIONE: inscripción online / registration online / registrazione online


Wednesday 29 June 2016: Ptolemaic period

08.30-09.15 Registration

09.15-09.25 Opening: Prof. Dr. Rik Torfs, rector of KU Leuven

09.25-09.30 Welcome: Sofie Waebens

Keynote lectures

09.30-10.15 Joseph G. Manning (Yale University)

Pursuing Justice in Ptolemaic Egypt

10.15-11.00 Anne-Emmanuelle Veïsse (Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne)

Dénonciation et répression de la violence de l’Égypte du IIIe siècle

11.00-11.30 Coffee & Tea

Session 1

11.30-12.00 Valérie Wyns (KU Leuven)

Ptolemaic Government Ideology on Dispute Resolution

12.00-12.30 Katelijn Vandorpe (KU Leuven)

The Official Channels of Justice in Ptolemaic Egypt

12.30-14.00 Lunch

Session 2

14.00-14.30 Christine Hué-Arcé (Université de Strasbourg)

Regulating Violent Conflicts Outside the Legal Field in Hellenistic Egypt: The Demotic Evidence

14.30-15.00 Gert Baetens (KU Leuven)

Dispute Resolution through Demotic Petitions in Ptolemaic Egypt

15.00-15.30 Coffee & Tea

Session 3

15.30-16.00 Mario C.D. Paganini (University of Copenhagen)

Keep it for Yourself: Private Associations and Internal Dispute Resolution in Ptolemaic Egypt

16.00-16.30 Edward Love (Universität Heidelberg / University of Oxford)

Beyond Earthly Justice: The “Letters to Gods” and Divine Judgment

16.30-16.45 Discussion

17.00-19.00 Reception

Thursday 30 June 2016: Roman period

Keynote lecture

10.00-10.45 Benjamin Kelly (York University)

Accessing Justice in Roman Egypt: Quantitative Methods and their Limitations

10.45-11.15 Coffee & Tea

Session 1

11.15-11.45 Brendan Haug (University of Michigan)

Predictably Unpredictable: Water Supply, Water Rights, and Irrigation Disputes in Egypt’s Fayyum

11.45-12.15 Kimberley Czajkowski (Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster)

Divorce, Disputes and Documentation: Using “Deeds of Divorce” as Evidence of Alternative Dispute Resolution

12.15-12.45 Sofie Waebens (KU Leuven)

Measuring Police Effectiveness in Roman Egypt: A Comparative Perspective

12.45-14.00 Lunch

Session 2

14.00-14.30 José Luis Alonso (University of the Basque Country)

The Prefect and the Law

14.30-15.00 Charles Bartlett (Harvard University)

The Rule of Law in Roman Egypt: The Gnomon of the Idiologos

15.00-15.30 Marianna Thoma (University of Athens)

Dispute Resolution between Husband and Wife in Roman Egypt: Legal Mechanisms and Familial Strategies

15.30-16.00 Coffee & Tea

Session 3

16.00-16.30 William Mundy (University of Manchester)

The Shadow of the Law in Village Life: Hidden Processes at Work behind the Petitions from Euhemeria

16.30-17.00 David M. Ratzan (New York University)

Vandalism and the Weapons of the Weak in Roman Egypt

17.00-17.15 Discussion

19.00-23.30 Conference dinner (Faculty Club)

Friday 1 July 2016: Late Antique period

Keynote lecture

10.00-10.45 Bernhard Palme (Universität Wien)

Courts and Legal Proceedings in Late Roman Egypt

10.45-11.15 Coffee & Tea

Session 1

11.15-11.45 Matthias Stern (Universität Basel)

The Pagarch and the Village. Disputing Public Authority in the Late Antique Countryside

11.45-12.15 Marzena Wojtczak (University of Warsaw)

Private Dispute Resolution in Late Antiquity - An Alternative to State Jurisdiction?

12.15-12.45 Bruno Marien (KU Leuven)

Judicial Interventions in Recommendation Letters: A Way of Seeking Justice?

12.45-14.00 Lunch

Session 2

14.00-14.30 Nicholas Venable (University of Chicago)

Holy Men, Roman Law and Social Violence in Late Antique Egypt

14.30-15.00 Louise M. Frenkel (Universidade de São Paulo)

Roman Elements of Religious Dispute Resolutions in the Theodosian Age

15.00-15.30 Lucinda Kirby (University of Liverpool)

Roman Elements of Religious Dispute Resolutions in the Theodosian Age

15.30-16.00 Coffee & Tea

Session 3

16.00-16.30 Madalina Toca (KU Leuven)

Dealing with Traffic of Influence in Fifth-Century Pelusium: An Epistolary Case Study

16.30-17.00 Manex Ralla Arregi (University of the Basque Country)

Holy Places at Dispute: The Case of P. CLT 5

17.00-17.15 Discussion

17.15-17.45 Closing remarks

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