The project has analyzed legal forms of private land use in the colonies and in the province of the Roman Empire, pointing out their underlying relationship with fundamental legal and governmental decisions.


The Roman land law is a setting that allows particularly well to investigate the tension between legal constructions that are based on a seemingly simple system and the demands of practice. It provides the basis for understanding how Roman jurists took on factual developments and integrated them in different ways into the grown legal structures. The project clarified the governmental process of conceptualization and the controlling of land.

The examination of Roman land law and its conceptual background is based on a comparison between private ownership on the ager privatus and legal forms of private land use on public land, the ager vectigalis. The latter allowed the individual land users to exercise extensive permissions that could be seen as similar to legal ownership, the so-called “dominium ex iure Quiritium”. The ager compascuus is generally seen as a form of common land use that includes aspects of both private and public land use. The Roman jurists had different approaches to the integration of these legal forms in the dogmatic structure of Roman law. The examination of their judgments reveals that their decisions can be attributed to major conceptual frameworks, the pre-classical and the classical jurisprudence.

Special importance is attached to the analysis of the writings of the Roman land surveyors. They not only shed light on the practical aspects of the surveying techniques, the founding of colonies and land use but reveal the interdependence of ritual foundations, practical and legal aspects. The writings of the Roman land surveyors show a different sort of approach to legal controversies that is more focused on the consequences of legal decisions. In that way it is possible to understand on what basis authorities decided legal controversies. In connection with the findings related to the aforementioned dualism between the pre-classical and the classical jurisprudence, the political and philosophical reasons for these decisions become more transparent.

The examination of the interdependence between the perspectives of Roman jurists and land surveyors was taken forward by the participation in monthly workshops of the Key Topic Transformation. The work of scientists from different disciplines focused on transformation processes in the field of knowledge.

Important impacts also resulted from a research stay at the Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II in Naples (Italy). The main goal of literature research was supplemented by a participation in the 68. Session of the Société Internationale Fernand de Visscher pour l’Histoire des Droits de l’Antiquité (SIHDA) in Naples and a speech held at the Centro Interdipartimentale „Vincenzo Arangio-Ruiz” di Studi Storici e Giuridici sul Mondo Antico.

This Ph.D. thesis was written within the program Ancient Languages and Texts (ALT) of the Berlin Graduate School of Ancient Studies (BerGSAS) and was successfully completed.