The Gortyn Code c. 480 BCE

The brief history of The Gortyn Code.

The Gortyn Code
The Gortyn Code

Prior to the Roman conquest of Greece in 67 BCE, Gortyn, which was located near modern-day Heraklion, was one of Crete’s most powerful cities. Archaeologists excavating in the area began uncovering limestone blocks in and around a stream in the 1850s. The Gortyn Code was written in Doric inscriptions on the blocks, which date from approximately 480 and 460 BCE.
The entire Code was engraved on twelve huge columns that formed part of a circular wall of a building that was thought to have been a court, totaling around 600 lines of text. The Code, which dealt mostly with family law, includes old laws, amended laws, and new laws, representing the evolution of legislation over time. It dealt with marriage, property rights, including those of a divorced wife and the sale of family property, children of mixed marriages, adoption, succession (though not testamentary succession), rape, seduction, and adultery, slave ownership and slave marriages, and heiresses’ marriage and inheritance (those women who were the sole descendant of a deceased father).

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