The Organization of India-to-Rome Trade : Loans and Agents in the Muziris Papyrus

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


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.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRoman Law and Economics : Institutions and Organizations
EditorsGiuseppe Dari - Mattiacci, Dennis P. Kehoe
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)9780198787204 9780191829284
StatePublished - 2020


  • Law and economics
  • Romen Economic History


Dive into the research topics of 'The Organization of India-to-Rome Trade : Loans and Agents in the Muziris Papyrus'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this