A History of Ancient Near Eastern Law - Vol. 2

By Raymond Westbrook; Gary Beckman et al. | Go to book overview

EGYPT
DEMOTIC LAW
Joseph G. Manning

1. SOURCES OF LAW

1.1 Demotic

1.1.1 Demotic represents a distinct phase in the Egyptian language and script, and we are justified in speaking in terms of Demotic law,1 representing as it does a new episode in Egyptian legal history.2 There are, however, for the period covered by the term “Demotic law, other scripts and languages, hieroglyphic and the so-called šabnormal (better: “cursive”) hieratic” for the early Demotic period, and Greek, which became increasingly important, for the Middle period of Demotic law. The use of Demotic as an independent language of legal texts was in decline by the late Ptolemaic period, although the last Demotic contract is dated 175/176 C. E.3 Demotic continued to be used for tax receipts into thefirst century C. E. (and for temple accounts and literary texts well into the second century

I would like to thank Hans-Albert Rupprecht (Marburg), Dorothy Thompson (Cambridge), Sandra Lippert (Würzburg) and Koen Donker Van Heel (Leiden) for reading earlier versions of this chapter and for offering criticisms and suggestions.

____________________
1
Previous general surveys of Demotic law were written by El-Amir, “Introduction…, and Edgerton, “Demotica…” Taubenschlag, Law…, incorporates Demotic material into his large survey of the law of the papyri, as does Seidl, Ptolemäische Rechtsgeschichte, 19. For Demotic texts, see Zauzich, “Die demotischen Dokumente, and DePauw, Companion…, 123–48. Articles concerned with Demotic and Greek law in the papyri are reviewed by Hengstl in the Archiv für Papyrusforschung, “Juristische Literaturübersicht, now continued by the same author in the Journal of Juristic Papyrology, and by Mélèze-Modrzejewski in the Revue historique de droit français et étranger. Because of the limits of space and the overlap between early Demotic and abnormal hieratic at the beginning of the period of coverage here, and of Demotic and Greek texts at the end, this survey can in no way make a claim to complete coverage of the law of Egypt from 650–30 B. C. E.
2
Malinine, Choix de textes…, xv–xxvi; Pestman, “L'origine…” There are certainly strong connections between Demotic law and earlier Egyptian legal traditions, clearly seen in the legal language and in conception.
3
P. Tebt Botti 3. On the decline of Demotic as a legal language, see Lewis, “Demise…”

-819-

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