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Adriaan Lanni, Evidence: Ancient Athens, in The Oxford International Encyclopedia of Legal History (Stanley N. Katz ed., 2009).

Abstract: In the Rhetoric, Aristotle distinguishes between two different means of persuasion: artistic (entechnoi) proofs, which involve rhetorical arguments invented by the speaker, and artless (atechnoi) proofs, which are pieces of documentary evidence that exist independent of the orator's art. He lists five types of artless proofs: laws, witness testimony, contracts, evidence derived through the torture of slaves, and oaths. Aristotle's emphasis on rhetorical rather than artless proofs reflects the distinctive Athenian approach to the presentation of evidence. While most modern trials focus on the introduction of testimony and other forms of evidence, often in a highly fragmented form, Athenian litigants provided a largely uninterrupted narrative of their case, punctuated with the reading of evidence; in an Athenian court the evidence did not make the case but reinforced the claims and rhetorical arguments presented in the litigant's speech. Each litigant was responsible for gathering any evidence he wished to present to the jury at trial. There were two major types of action: private cases, in which the injured party brought suit, and public cases, in which anyone could bring suit. In cases involving an appeal from public arbitration—that is, in most private cases in the fourth century b.c.e.—each party was limited to the documentary evidence that had been presented at the arbitration and stored in a sealed jar for trial. During the trial, litigants generally introduced evidence by calling for the clerk to read the relevant document aloud to the jury. In private cases, and perhaps also in public cases, the reading of evidence did not count against the litigant's allotted speaking time.