Public Records and Archives in Classical Athens (Studies in by James P. Sickinger

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By James P. Sickinger

During this publication, James Sickinger explores the use and maintenance of public documents within the old Athenian democracy of the archaic and classical classes. Athenian public files are so much primary from the survival of inscribed stelai, slabs of marble on that have been released decrees, treaties, monetary money owed, and different nation records. operating principally from facts provided by means of such inscriptions, Sickinger demonstrates that their texts really represented just a small a part of Athenian checklist conserving. extra a variety of and extra ordinary, he says, have been archival texts written on wood pills or papyri that have been made, and sometimes saved for prolonged sessions of time, via Athenian officers. starting with the laws of Drakon within the 7th century B.C., Sickinger lines the turning out to be use of written documents by way of the Athenian kingdom over the following 3 centuries, concluding with an exam of the Metroon, the nation archive of Athens, through the fourth century. difficult assumptions approximately historic Athenian literacy, democracy, and society, Sickinger argues that the sensible use and upkeep of legislation, decrees, and different kingdom records have been hallmarks of Athenian public existence from the earliest occasions.

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Setting these rules down in writing could not ensure compliance by citizens or prevent arbitrary judgments by magistrates, but it could provide fixed controls against which the actions of both magistrates and citizens could henceforth be measured. iii. Solon When we turn from the legislation of Drakon to that of Solon, our problem is less a paucity of sources than their abundance. The Athenians remembered Solon as a lawgiver, statesman, and poet. He was appointed archon in 594/3 amid severe economic and political distress, and he addressed the crisis by overhauling Athenian political, legal, and social life.

Recognizing this part of the law was no longer valid, they omitted it from the text they published. This would mean that the anagrapheis did not publish all of Drakon’s law, but only those portions of it still in force in the late fifth century. But it would also show that Athenians who looked closely could di√erentiate between original laws and later revisions to them. The survival of a measure rescinded by later legislation might seem unusual, especially in light of the later Athenian practice of destroying laws, decrees, and other documents once their contents became invalid.

Nor should we imagine that the system of public audits attested from the middle of the fifth century was already in place in the middle of the sixth century. But sixth-century hieropoioi may have found it desirable to maintain simple, written accounts of the goods they handled, either to facilitate their administration of the festival or to protect themselves against charges of corruption or malfeasance; it was to assist with such record keeping that secretaries were enlisted. Although we do not meet secretaries at Athens again until the midfifth century, it is not likely that magistrates abandoned their use, and the use of writing, in the intervening century.

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