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Artisans and craftsmen in Southern Italy participated in complex networks of interactions which are not yet fully understood. Although we know the broad outlines of the kind of mobility driven by trade, the movements of individual artists or artefacts are much harder to track and, unlike the careers of elite men or soldiers, craftsmen’s lives are rarely memorialised in literature or outlined on gravestones. Instead, their work provides our main insight into how artisans lived, worked and travelled. The style, function and decoration of paintings, ceramics and other products provides some clues, but text is also used for decorative and practical purposes on a wide range of different objects. Many of these inscriptions show the writer’s familiarity with multiple languages, alphabets or dialects and, in some cases, may show evidence for movement across language or dialect boundaries.
The study of migration in the ancient world unexpectedly became a topic of the global news cycle in the summer of 2017. ‘The Story of Britain’, a BBC cartoon for schools that depicted a black soldier in Roman Britain generated Twitter exchanges, subsequently expanded into blogs, newspaper articles and think pieces around the world. Historians, archaeologists, geneticists, statisticians as well as others from outside academia contributed to a debate about the amount of ethnic diversity in Roman Britain and the origin and impact of ancient migrants to the British Isles. The editors of this volume do not expect that it will have an impact equivalent to the BBC cartoon, but we hope that the chapters within it can both contribute to the gradual disentanglement of scanty, sometimes contradictory, evidence and present new ways of looking at ancient migration, while also laying bare some of the tacit or unwarranted assumptions that have been made.
Migration, Mobility and Language Contact in and around the Ancient Mediterranean is the first volume to show the different ways in which surviving linguistic evidence can be used to track movements of people in the ancient world. Eleven chapters cover a number of case studies, which span the period from the seventh century BC to the fourth century AD, ranging from Spain to Egypt, from Sicily to Pannonia. The book includes detailed study of epigraphic and literary evidence written in Latin and Greek, as well as work on languages which are not so well documented, such as Etruscan and Oscan. There is a subject index and an index of works and inscriptions cited.
Where does Roman law come from? There are several possible answers to this question. First, it is possible that Roman law is an outgrowth of an oral tradition of law shared with other Indo-European languages. Second, Roman law might reflect legal traditions that developed in Italy over centuries of interaction between local communities; a parallel situation is envisaged to explain the Roman onomastic system, which appears to be the product of a cultural koiné between the peoples of central Italy in the first half of the first millennium BCE. A third possible source of Roman law is the influence from other cultures in the ancient Mediterranean: several ancient Near Eastern cultures had developed sophisticated law-codes already in the second millennium BCE; Greek and Phoenician traders and colonists may well have spread legal traditions and law-codes into the western Mediterranean. The Romans themselves, as is well known, gave various accounts which stressed their debt to Greek law, including the story that Numa had gained his legal learning from Pythagoras, and another that three commissioners responsible for the Roman law of the Twelve Tables were sent by the Senate to copy Solon's laws at Athens and those of other Greek states.
These three possible origins do not necessarily stand in opposition to each other, and there may very well be no single source of Roman law. Whatever the original impetus for legal institutions or practices in Rome was, the Romans adapted these to their own purposes. Indeed, even a very brief examination of the etymology of some Latin legal terminology supports a view that different tributaries fed into the stream of Roman law, and that as these waters merged they gave rise to something new and different. Some Latin words relating to legal concepts and practices are inherited from the vocabulary of the parent language, known as Proto-Indo-European: for example, ius ‘justice’ and iustus ‘just’, words which have parallels in Indo-Aryan and Celtic languages; appear to be shared among the Indo-European languages of Italy, but not further afield in the Indo-European language family, such as lex ‘law’ and derivatives; and there are other words which show shared semantic ranges across Indo-European and non-Indo-European languages, such as the terms relating to slavery, and the concept of the familia; finally, a few legal terms are borrowed from Greek, for example, poena ‘penalty’.