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Roman Law and EconomicsInstitutions and Organizations Volume I$
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Giuseppe Dari-Mattiacci and Dennis P. Kehoe

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780198787204

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198787204.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 20 January 2022

The Organization of India-to-Rome Trade

The Organization of India-to-Rome Trade

Loans and Agents in the Muziris Papyrus

(p.163) 7 The Organization of India-to-Rome Trade
Roman Law and Economics

Ron Harris

Oxford University Press

Not much is known about the organization of the trade between Egypt and India in Roman times. Roman law is obviously well documented in surviving texts of various sorts. Trade practices in the Indian Ocean routes are sporadically known from surviving manuscripts. Actual organizational documents are practically unavailable with the rare exception of the Muziris Papyrus. The Papyrus, dated from the mid-second century CE, known also as the Vienna Papyrus, was first published in 1985. It deals with the finance and organization of trade on the route between Alexandria and Muziris in India. It adds a new dimension to our knowledge of the organizational practices of Eurasia trade in antiquity and is in fact the best source available up until the era of the Cairo Geniza, almost a millennium later. There is an ongoing debate about its nature in the papyrology literature. I will provide my own analysis of the papyrus based on legal history, economic analysis of law, and institutional economics theory. I will evaluate its nature as a loan or agency contract, as a standard form template, and as a forerunner of the sea loan and the commenda.

Keywords:   law and economics, economic analysis of Roman law, Roman economic history, Muziris, commenda, Red Sea trade, Geniza, Roman commerce, bottomry loans, agency

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