Legal procedure

Patrick Olivelle, Michael Gagarin, Caroline Humfress, Geoffrey MacCormack, Joseph G. Manning, Bruce Wells

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter examines the kinds of legal procedure adopted by various ancient legal systems to conduct legal proceedings in a court. The areas covered include the constitution of courts, preliminary court proceedings, valid evidence, presentation and evaluation of evidence, and the final verdict, including the possibility of appeals. Discussions include judges and court personnel, the physical space of courts, distinctions between civil and criminal cases, plaint and plea, sureties, and legal representation. Under evidence there is examination of witnesses, documents, oaths, ordeals, torture for evidentiary purposes, and forensic investigation, and punishment for perjury. Once a verdict is reached by the court, there are issues relating to the recording and the enforcement of the verdict. There is wide diversity in the legal procedure recorded in the sources from different legal traditions. Some deal with the topic explicitly, while in others we have to deduce the procedure from material on court cases.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCambridge comparative history of ancient law
EditorsCaroline Humfress, David Ibbetson, Patrick Olivelle
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages73
ISBN (Electronic)9781009452243
ISBN (Print)9781107035164
Publication statusPublished - May 2024


  • Court
  • Judge
  • Jurisdiction
  • Plaint
  • Plea
  • Witness
  • Document
  • Ordeal
  • Perjury
  • Oath


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