The Bloomberg tablets and Roman law

For those of us interested in the provincial application of Roman law, the discovery and recent publication of the Bloomberg tablets from Roman London provide a veritable treasure trove of new information (Roger Tomlin, Roman London’s First Voices. (MOLA 2016)). Since examples of legal practice are complex and should be weighed against existing doctrinal information, the following is but a brief survey of texts from this collection that, in my view, have implications for our understanding of the provincial application of Roman law. The texts in question are:

• WT 27: a chirograph received by a freedman from a slave;
• WT 29: a letter from a slave to a master about cattle as investment;
• WT 30: a letter about a loan that has seemingly affected someone’s financial reputation;
• WT 35: a note of a deposit (!) using the term arra of 200 denarii.
• WT 44: a written acknowledgement of a debt incurred as a consequence of a sale of goods;
• WT 45: a lex locationis for the transport of goods from St. Albans to London;
• WT 50: a receipt for rent collected by a slave in relation to two farms;
• WT 51: a praeiudicium together with the source of the jurisdictional competence (the Emperor)
• WT 55: some sort of promise (maybe a stipulation?)
• WT 57: a procuratio (with some aspects of legal representation?)
• WT 62: some sort of act that required seven witnesses (maybe a mancipatio?)
• WT 70: an account listing amounts of money lent to slaves.

Exciting work remains to be done on these tablets, most of which are only fragmentary, since they will reveal much more about the provincial application of Roman law prior to 212 AD. I hope that scholars will take up the call to look at these tablets with great care.

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