Prof. Dr. Maria Nowak

Fields of interest

  • Legal history
  • Papyrology
  • Roman law
  • Graeco-Roman Egypt
  • Late Antiquity


Maria Nowak is a law graduate with a broad academic background and training, having also studied History and Classical Philology as part of her studies at the College of Inter-Faculty Individual Studies in the Humanities at the University of Warsaw.

Her doctorate, defended at the University of Warsaw, focused on the interaction of Roman testamentary law with local practices and was based on both papyri and sources of statutory law. Her habilitation, a result of eight years of research on the children born out of wedlock between the time of Augustus and Constantine, addresses the problem of different perceptions of ‘illegitimate children’ and defining ‘illegitimacy’ by various groups of inhabitants and in different legal traditions of the Roman Empire vs Roman law. It goes much beyond the illegitimacy as it discusses the problems of status or family in the Roman Empire, and is based on various types of sources, such as jurisprudence, imperial law, papyri of various types, inscriptions and literature.

Since 2020 she has been working on legal networks in late Antique legal practice of Egypt. Her special interest has focused on Coptic documents from the Theban region as well as Greek & Coptic papyri from the sixth and seventh-century Aphrodite.

In October 2023 she joined the team AntCoCo.



Education and Career

  • 10.06.2008: magister juris: Faculty of Law and Administration & College of Inter-Faculty Individual Studies in the Humanities, University of Warsaw (supervised by Dr Jakub Urbanik).
  • 16.01.2012: doctor juris: University of Warsaw (supervised by prof. Maria Zabłocka): (based on a thesis later published as M.Nowak, Wills in the Roman Empire: A Documentary Approach, Warsaw 2015) granted cum laude.
  • 01.10.2012 – 31.10.2022: Assistant professor at the Faculty of Law and Administration, University of Warsaw
  • 07.06.2021: Venia legendi (habilitation), University of Warsaw (based on M. Nowak, Bastards in Egypt: Social and Legal Illegitimacy in the Roman Era, Warsaw 2020) granted cum laude.
  • 01.11.2022 – : University professor at the Faculty of Law and Administration, University of Warsaw
  • 01.10.2023 –: Postdoctoral researcher at the University of Bamberg, AntCoCo


Scholarships and Projects

  • 01.06.2010–31.10.2010: Doctoral scholarship at the University of Cologne, Institute of Roman Law, financed by Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD)
  • 2009-2012: Wills and other ways of disposing property mortis causa in late Roman law’, Ministry of Science and Higher Education
  • 18.11.2010–16.12.2010: Research stay at the University of Oxford financed by the Foundation for Polish Science
  • 01.03.2013–28.02.2014: Postdoctoral fellow at University of Geneva, Chair of Ancient Greek, sponsored by the Swiss SCIEX Program; project title: ‘Romans and non-Romans and the law of succession – unity and particularity in the light of Gnomon of idioslogos
  • 01.10.2017–30.09.2019: Postdoctoral fellow at the University of Heidelberg, Institute of Papyrology, sponsored by Alexander von Humboldt Foundation
  • 2016–2020: ‘Legal and social status of extramarital children in the Roman Empire before Constantine the Great’, National Science Center (Sonata 2015/17/D/HS3/00376), PI
  • 01.09.2020–31.08.2021: Postdoc fellow at the University of Leiden, Leiden Institute for Area Studies, sponsored by National Agency for Academic Exchange; project title: ‘Legal networks in the Theban region’
  • 03–21.09.2021: Visiting professorship at the University of Bamberg sponsored by the University of Bamberg within the framework of the Diversity Program
  • 2020–2024: ‘Law in social networks of late-antique Aphrodito’, financed by National Science Center (Opus 2019/35/B/HS3/02301), PI



a) Monographs
1. M. Nowak, Bastards in Egypt Social and Legal Illegitimacy in the Roman Era, Peeters Publishers 2020
Reviewed in 1. M. Varvaro in Plekos:; J. Lenaerts in Latomus 81.1
Distinction for the habilitation work by the journal Państwo i Prawo [State and Law]: June 2022.
2. M. Nowak, Wills in the Roman Empire. A Documentary Approach, The Taubenschlag Foundation 2015
Reviewed in: 1. E. Buchanan in Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2017.01.02; 2. B. Rochette in Latomus 77.1 (2018) 281–284; 3. D. Anex-Cabanis in Revue historique de droit français et étranger 1 (2018) 152–153; 4. B. Strobel in Zeitschrift der Savigny-Stiftung für Rechtsgeschichte RA 135 (2018) 800–808; 5. C. Clapuyt in Chronique d’Egypte 93 (2018) 411–412

b) Edited Volumes
3. L. Berkes, W.G. Claytor, M. Nowak (eds.), Papyrologische und althistorische Studien zum 65. Geburtstag von Andrea Jördens, Harrasowitz 2023
4. M. Nowak, A. Łajtar, J. Urbanik (eds.), Tell Me Who You Are. Labelling Status in the Graeco-Roman World, Sub Lupa 2017
5. Z. Benincasa, J. Urbanik (eds.), P. Niczyporuk, M. Nowak (collaboration), Mater Familias: Scritti romanistici per Maria Zabłocka, Raphael Taubenschlag Foundation 2016
6. J. Łazicki, M. Nowak, K. Pietruczuk (eds.), Poemat Papirusu z Derveni: wprowadzenie, rekonstrukcje i komentarz, Wydawnictwo Poznańskie 2008

c) Articles in peer-reviewed journals
7. C. Balamoshev, M. Nowak, ‘A 3rd-Century manumissio inter amicos’, Pylon 2 (2022)
8. M. Nowak, ‘A will from Sinkepha (Oxyrhynchites): P. Heid. inv. 939 R + PSI V 4751’, Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 223 (2022) 120–130
9. M. Nowak, ‘Monastic wills from the monastery in St. Phoibammon in Western Thebes - legal and social analysis’, The Journal of Coptic Studies 24 (2022), pp. 283-318
10.  M. Nowak, ‘A Slave or a generous benefactor? Legal analysis of 8th-century donations of boys from the Monastery of St. Phoibammon in the Western Thebes’, Zeitschrift der Savigny-Stiftung für Rechtsgeschichte: Romanistische Abteilung 139 (2022), pp. 253–289
11. M. Nowak, ‘Will of Apollos daughter of Paesis from Oxyrhynchos’, Zeitschrift der Savigny-Stiftung für Rechtsgeschichte: Romanistische Abteilung 138 (2021), pp. 543-554
12. M. Nowak, rev. D. Mantovani/Serena Ammirati (eds.), Giurisprudenza romana nei papiri. Tracce per una ricerca. Pavia University Press, Pavia 2018. VIII, 194 S., ISBN 978-88-6952-083-9, Zeitschrift der Savigny-Stiftung für Rechtsgeschichte: Romanistische Abteilung 2020, pp. 496–504
13. M. Nowak, rev. En marge du Serment hippocratique. Contrats et serments dans le monde gréco-romain [= Collection Papyrologica Leodiensia VII], M.-H. Marganne, A. Ricciardetto (red.), Liège: 2017, Gnomon 92 (2020), pp. 5–8
14.  A. Kacprzak, M. Nowak, ‘Foundlings in the Greco-Roman world: Status and the (im)possibility of adoption’, Tijdschrift voor Rechtsgeschiedenis 86 (2018), pp. 13–54
15. M. Nowak, ‘Fatherless among οἱ ἀπὸ τῆς μητροπόλεως – a revision’, Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 208 (2018), pp. 213–225
16. T. Derda, M. Nowak, ‘Will of Ploution son of Ischyrion from Oxyrhynchos, a weaver (?)’, Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 207 (2018), pp. 145-154
17. M. Nowak, ‘Get your free corn: The fatherless in the corn-dole archive from Oxyrhynchos’, U schyłku starożytności. Studia źródłoznawcze 16 (2017). Special Issue = M. Nowak, A. Łajtar, J. Urbanik (ed.), Tell Me Who You Are: Labeling Status in the Graeco-Roman World, Warsaw 2018), pp. 215–228
18. M. Nowak, ‘Dzieci pozamałżeńskie w świetle źródeł papirusowych z rzymskiego Egiptu’ [= Illegitiamte children in light of papyri from Roman Egypt], U schyłku starożytności. Studia źródłoznawcze 14 (2015), pp. 9–29
19. M. Nowak, ‘Ways of describing illegitimate children vs. their legal situation’, Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 193 (2015), pp. 207–219
20. E. Garel, M. Nowak, ‘Mnisze i świeckie testamenty z koptyjskiej Dżeme’ [= Monastic and lay wills from Coptic Jeme], Studia Źródłoznawcze. U Schyłku Starożytności 13 (2014), pp. 191-210
21. M. Nowak, ‘Dryton’s wills reconsidered’, Revue Internationale des droits de l’antiquité 59 (2012), pp. 241-251
22. T. Derda, M. Nowak, ‘Two wills from Oxyrhynchos’, The Journal of Juristic Papyrology 42 (2012), pp. 101-115
23. M. Nowak, B. Wojciechowski, ‘Elements of legal practice in Christian Nubia’, The Journal of Juristic Papyrology 42 (2012), pp. 195-228
24. M. Nowak, ‘The substitution of heirs in wills from Roman Egypt’, Zeszyty Prawnicze UKSW 12.1 (2012), pp. 173-179
25. M. Nowak, ‘Mancipatio and its life in late-Roman law’, The Journal of Juristic Papyrology 41 (2011), pp. 103-122
26. M. Nowak, ‘Titius heres esto. The role of the legal practice in the law-creation in late antiquity’, The Journal of Juristic Papyrology 40 (2010), pp. 161-184
27. M. Nowak, ‘Defining Prostitution in Athenian Legal Rethorics’, Tijdschrift voor Rechtsgeschiedenis/The Legal History Review 78 (2010), pp. 183-197
28. M. Nowak ‘Miejsce prostytucji w ateńskiej sferze ‘sacrum’ w okresie klasycznym’ [= Prositution in the Athenian religion in the classical period], Zeszyty Prawnicze UKSW 9.1 (2009), ss. 123-143
29. M. Nowak, ‘Uwagi o prostytucji w Atenach w V i IV w. p.n.e.’ [= Remarks on the prostitution in the 4th- and 5th-century Athens], Przegląd historyczny 98 (2008), pp. 329–350

d) Book chapters
30. M. Nowak, T. Derda, Σημασία μαρτύρων: A Document Related to a Roman Will, [in:] L. Berkes, W.G. Claytor, M. Nowak (eds.), Papyrologische und althistorische Studien zum 65. Geburtstag von Andrea Jördens, Harrasowitz 2023
31. M. Nowak, ‘Citizenship in Roman Egypt before AD 212’, [in:] R. Zelnick-Abramovitz, C. Plastow, J. Filonik (eds.), Citizenship in Antiquity (Routledge), submitted invited chapter
32. P. Luvre III 192 in: A. Joerdens, Griechische Papyri aus der Sammlung des Louvre (P. Louvre III). Mit Beiträgen von Lajos Berkes, Fritz Mitthof, Maria Nowak und Naïm Vanthieghem. Habelt Verlag, Bonn 2022 (Papyrologische Texte und Abhandlungen, Band 47)
33. M. Nowak, ‘Village or town? Did it matter for making wills in Roman Egypt’, [in:] M. Langellotti, D. Rathbone (eds.), Village Institutions in Egypt in the Roman to Early Arab Periods, Oxford University Press 2020
34. E. Garel, M. Nowak, ‘Monastic wills: The continuation of late Roman legal tradition?’, [in:] M. Choat, M.Giorda (eds.), Writing and Communication in Early Egyptian Monasticism [= TSEC 9], Brill 2017, pp. 108–128
35. M. Nowak, ‘Wpływ nastrojów społecznych na kształtowanie prawa w późnej starożytności. Dzieci pozamałżeńskie w konstytucjach Konstantyna Wielkiego’ [Public opinion vs law making in late Antiquity. Illegitimate children in the laws of Constantine the Great] , [in:] T. Giaro (ed.), Źródła prawa – teoria i praktyka, Beck 2017, ss. 95–116
36. M. Nowak, ‘The fatherless and family structure in Roman Egypt’, [in:] D. Leăo, G. Thür, Symposion 2015, Vorträge zur griechischen und hellenistischen Rechtsgeschichte (Coimbra 1–4 Setembro 2015), Austrian Academy of Sciences Press 2016, pp. 100–114
37. T. Derda, M. Nowak, ‘Will of [—]is daughter of Pachois from Oxyrhynchos. P. Oxy. ii 379 descr.’, [in:] Z. Benincasa, J. Urbanik (eds.), Mater familias. Scritti romanistici per Maria Zabłocka, The Taubenschlag Foundation 2016, pp. 135–143
38. M. Nowak, ‘Gnomon, Idios Logos’, [in:] R. Bagnall et alii (eds.), The Encyclopedia of Ancient History, Wiley and Sons 2015 online edition
39.  M. Nowak, encyclopedic entries: adopcja; apagoge; apokeryksis; Ateny (prawo); atimia; dike; dziedziczenie beztestamentowe; dziedziczenie testamentowe; emporikai dikai; epikleros; Gortyna (prawo); graphe; horkos; hybris; kradzież; małżeństwo (okres klasyczny); metojkowie; moicheia; najem; niewolnicy i wyzwoleńcy (okres klasyczny); nomos; nothos; posag; prawo (greckie); prawo Peryklesa; psephisma; sądownictwo (ateńskie); sprzedaż; szkoda w cudzym majątku; umowa (okres klasyczny); Wielki Kodeks z Gortyny; własność (okres klasyczny); zabójstwo; zaręczyny [in:] W. Wołodkiewicz (red.), Wielka Encyklopedia Prawa, I, Prawa świata antycznego, Warsaw 2014
40. M. Nowak, ‘The hereditary rights of the extramarital children in light of the law of papyri’, [in:] B. Caseau, S. Huebner (eds.), Inheritance, Law and Religions in the Ancient and Mediaeval Worlds, ACHCByz 2014, pp. 11–24
41. M. Nowak, ‘The function of witnesses in the wills from late antique Egypt’, [in:] P. Schubert (ed.), Actes du 26e Congrès international de papyrology Genève, 16–21 août 2010, Geneva, Droz 2012, pp. 573-580
42. M. Nowak, ‘Non omnis moriar – the funeral and after-death ceremonies in the light of funerary clauses in Egyptian wills’, [in:] L. Ożarowska, K. Sekita. J. Simon (eds.), Feast, Play and Celebration in the Ancient World, Wydawnictwo Poznańskie 2011, pp. 117-126
43. M. Nowak, ‘Non omnis moriar: Pogrzeby, groby i ceremonie pośmiertne w tekstach prawa rzymskiego’ [= Non omnis moriar. Funerals, tombs and after-death ceremonies in the sources of Roman law], Mówią Wieki 11 (2009), ss. 9–13

e). Database
44.  M. Krawczyk & M. Nowak, website and database Roman Bastards Database -