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Lost Roman law code discovered in London

Part of an ancient Roman law code previously thought to have been lost forever has been discovered by researchers at University College London (UCL)’s Department of History. Dr Simon Corcoran and Dr Benet Salway made the breakthrough after piecing together 17 fragments of previously incomprehensible parchment. The fragments were being studied at UCL as part of the Arts & Humanities Research Council-funded “Projet Volterra” – a ten year study of Roman law in its full social, legal and political context.

Corcoran and Salway found that the text belonged to the Codex Gregorianus, or Gregorian Code, a collection of laws by emperors from Hadrian (AD 117-138) to Diocletian (AD 284-305), which was published circa AD 300. Little was known about the codex’s original form and there were, until now, no known copies in existence.

“The fragments bear the text of a Latin work in a clear calligraphic script, perhaps dating as far back as AD 400,” said Dr Salway. “These fragments are the first direct evidence of the original version of the Gregorian Code,” said Dr Corcoran.

A transcript of this podcast (PDF, 232KB) is available.

Publish date Runtime
03/08/2012 12.00