LAW 5860: Ancient Law Seminar

Course Catalog Number: 
5860
Course Credits: 
3
Course Catalog Requirements: 
Upper-Level Writing
"W" Writing
Course Priority: 
Seminar - 3rd Year Priority
Course Category: 
Standard Courses
Full Year Course: 
No
Course Type: 
Seminar

This seminar will introduce students to the very beginnings of Western legal history. Through a comparative examination of the legal systems and practices of ancient Mesopotamia (including Hammurabi’s Babylon, c. 1700 B.C.), ancient Egypt, ancient Israel, ancient Anatolia (the Hittite Empire, c. 1500 B.C.), ancient Greece and ancient Rome, we will investigate the historical origins of “law” as an idea. We will see how each of these societies created law in the image of its own beliefs and needs. We will look at what differentiated the resulting legal systems, and what united them. We will examine not merely the ancient “law in the books” (the formal written codes that have received so much historical and philological attention over the years) but also the ancient “law in action” (the performances, rituals and ceremonies that created legal rights and duties in all these proto-literate societies). We will look at some of the earliest surviving trial records. Throughout the seminar, emphasis will be placed on developing a broad interdisciplinary perspective on the ancient legal cultures examined; readings will be drawn not only from the fields of law and history, but also from religion, anthropology, archaeology, literature and communication studies.

Prerequisites: 

Course Offerings

Class Number:
27742
Term:
Spring 2013-14
Professor(s):
Class Number:
26079
Term:
Fall 2012-13
Professor(s):