This recently edited letter 1 on lead is analyzed from philological and documental perspectives. Philologically, some modifications of its reading are suggested, supported by syntactical and dialectal considerations. This letter reveals, together with other epigraphical documents on lead about trade matters coming from the same geographical area (Olbia, Berezan, Phanagoría, etc.) and also from NW Mediterranean region (Emporion, Pech Maho, etc.), the existence in Greek archaic trade of an elaborate structure of professional traders. The content of the letter constitutes itself as relevant evidence about the modus operandi of trade in the archaic Greek world, particularly about the practice of cargoes' seizing (συλα̂ν). Our conclusion would be that measures of private seizure would not be unlawful, as long as they applied to persons not entitled to legal protection, and these seizures would not necessarily have a retaliatory character. Therefore, the key problem was not the possible "justification" of the seizure, but the personal condition of the victim. In conclusion, it may be said that commerce in the late archaic period would have been based on private agreements between traders, commercial customs and practices and, given the absence of an institutionalized legal structure for what we would call today "international trade", also on self-help or voie de fait by those who participated in trade.
|Journal||Zeitschrift fur Papyrologie und Epigraphik|
|Publication status||Published - 1 Dec 2006|