Skip to main content

Full text of "The Legacy Of Egypt"

See other formats

Law                               \ ^ 205
of proof were admitted, considered, and weighed by the judges.
Thus in one case we find that a party had to swear to the truth
of his assertion and that at the same time a penalty was agreed
upon in case the assertion should prove untrue. Then the wit-
nesses for the other side were sworn and testified to the opposite
of the first party's evidence, so that oath stood against oath,
one of which was necessarily perjured. No objection, however,
was felt to this; under the then prevailing law of procedure all
means could be employed which might help to ascertain the
truth. An important part was taken by documentary evidence.
In questions of personal status and of ownership the official tax
rolls were frequently used as a means of evidence. Thus the tax
rolls at that time performed a function which was to be assumed
in Roman tunes by a land register. Decisions were given hi the
form of a declaration by the court that *X is right, Y is wrong'.
Such decisions could not, of course, be put into execution imme-
diately, as that would have cast upon the responsible officer the
burden of studying the files so as to ascertain the meaning of
4X is right5—whether it meant that Y had to hand over a chattel
or whether he had to pay a sum of money. From this it may
be assumed that according to the law of the New Kingdom, just
as under the later law and under Babylonian law, the case did
not end with the judgement but that the judgement had to be
followed by a declaration of submission by the defeated party,
contained in a separate document. The defeated party declared
therein that he was bound to do such and such a thing or that
he had not such and such a claim against the other party, and
that he undertook to pay a fine should he renew the claim put
forward by him in the action. But it was regarded as a sign of
special skill on the part of the judge if he could persuade the
parties to settle the action before any judgement was given.
From the Nineteenth Dynasty onwards, perhaps as a sign of
reaction against the unsuccessful religious reforms of King
Amenophis IV (1375-1358), we see quite a different Hnd of