School of History, Classics & Archaeology

Between slavery and freedom conference

This one-day workshop hosted by the School on 1 May 2015 will explore slavery in the ancient world. (Published 18th March 2015)

'Between slavery and freedom: aspects of manumission in the ancient world. The ancient Near East, Greece, and Rome' is a one-day workshop that will explore slavery in the ancient world.

Event details

Friday 1 May 2015, 9.30am

Sydney Smith Lecture Theatre,

doorway 1, Old Medical Quad,

Teviot Place


Event description

Hosted by the School of History, Classics and Archaeology, this workshop will bring together scholars working on manumission and slavery in both the classical world (Greece and Rome), and the Near East to debate specific aspects of the manumission process and the lives of freed slaves.

Transition from slavery to freedom

Recent monographic work on ancient slavery has included a number of significant studies of manumission and freedmen. But despite these monographic treatments, it has become ever clearer that seminal aspects of the processes involved in slave manumission are understudied (including the workings and the place of peculium, the slave’s ability to amass possessions that enables him or her to purchase their freedom, the role played by the slave’s gender in the manumission process and prospects, etc.).

Moreover, the status of freed slaves remains subject to debate. In light of the prominence of evidence for manumission and the importance of status in ancient societies, the transition from slavery to freedom is central to our understanding of the peculiar institution in the ancient world.

Workshop programme

There will be three formal sessions: one on Rome, one on Greece, and one on Near Eastern slavery and manumission.

Each speaker is allocated one full hour for paper delivery and ensuing discussion, followed by a plenary discussion session at the end of the day chaired by the workshop organisers.

All participants are invited to present a poster on their work on slavery, which will be displayed at the poster session from 7pm onwards.


Our speakers at this event join us from the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Canada and Israel.

Near East

  • Dr Cornelia Wunsch (School of Oriental and African Studies, London): ‘Manumission and oblation around the Eastern Mediterranean: a comparative view’
  • Dr Heather Baker (University of Toronto, Canada): ‘Looking for slaves in Assyria’


  • Professor Deborah Kamen (University of Washington, United States of America): ‘Manumission and the quasi-peculium in classical Athens’
  • Professor Rachel Zelnick-Abramovitz (Tel Aviv University, Israel): ‘Partial manumission and its legal, economic, and social significance’
  • Ms Sara Zanovello (University of Edinburgh): ‘Manumission and paramone in the Delphic inscriptions’


  • Dr Paul du Plessis (University of Edinburgh): ‘'Slave interrogations in terms of the Lex Iulia on Adulteries'
  • Dr Juan Lewis (University of Edinburgh): ‘vicarii and manumission at Rome’

Slavery in World History: public lecture

The manumission workshop is preceded by the 5th in the School’s ‘Slavery in World History' public lectures.

Join Professor John Cairns (University of Edinburgh, School of Law) as he discusses his work on the re-use of Roman ‘slave law’.

This lecture will take place on 30 April 2015 at 6.15pm in the Teviot Lecture Theatre.

The event is free but ticketed. Registration is now open.


The workshop fee covers the registration for the event, refreshments throughout the day, a light sandwich lunch and a reception at the end of the formal proceedings.

Two fee options are available; a reduced fee for all students, unwaged or University of Edinburgh staff, and a standard fee for all other attendees.

Reduced fee £15.00
Standard fee £20.0


To register for this workshop, please visit our online booking system.

Further information

For further information on this workshop, please contact the organisers: Dr Ulrike Roth and Dr David Lewis.

Dr Ulrike Roth

Head of Classics Subject Area and Senior Lecturer; Ancient History

  • School of History, Classics and Archaeology
  • University of Edinburgh

Contact details

Dr David Lewis

Leverhulme Early Career Fellow; Classics

  • School of History, Classics and Archaeology
  • University of Edinburgh

Contact details