Law, Institutions, and Economic Performance in Classical Antiquity


Michael Leese (University of New Hampshire) []

Charles Bartlett (Duke University) []

Law and institutions are increasingly becoming central to the study of the ancient economy. Critical issues such as growth and the performance of the economy in ancient Greece and Rome are still poorly understood, however, and in spite of several recent specialized conferences and edited volumes, scholars still do not have a clear sense of how the ancient economy compared to other premodern (or modern) economic systems. Further integration of legal and institutional approaches to the study of the ancient economy will shed light on many of the most intransigent questions of how the ancient economy functioned, and comparative

perspectives can provide important insights into the Greco-Roman economy that would be unattainable with a narrower focus. This panel proposes to broaden the scope of legal analyses of the ancient economy, and to incorporate innovative comparisons with economic institutions and relationships characteristic of other periods and places. It is hoped that the juxtaposition of viewpoints will allow participants to critique a number of recent methodological and substantive approaches against the backdrop of previous work on the ancient economy and ancient law, and will suggest several potentially profitable new avenues of research.

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