Duhaime's LawGallery - The Law In Pictures


Cippus Stone of Law, 600 BC (Italy)

  • Object type: Document
  • Formal Title: Il Cippo del Foro (The Forum Cippus)
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: 600 BC
  • Origin: Lapis Niger, Rome, Italy
  • Current Location: Rome, Italy

Although the upper part of the Cippus stone is missing, and the characters are carved vertically, enough remains to determine that this is a Roman code of law, and the oldest stone inscription of Rome.

The left side of the stone suggests that anyone who “violates” the Cippus will face a death penalty; and the right side seems to give the king or his herald the rights to perform unspecified acts with animals.

The Stone was found under the Lapis Niger ("Black Stone"), an ancient Roman shrine in Rome, Italy.

This was one of the first instances of publication of law within ancient Rome, which the Romans liked to place in the most conspicuous place in a setlement, engraved in stone, to allow all to see what the law was and to prevent some tyrant from later acquiring power or authority based on some custom-based word-of-mouth interpretation of the law.

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