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The activity of mediation in itself appeared in very ancient times. Historians presume early cases in Phoenician commerce (use in Babylon as well). The practice developed in Ancient Greece (which knew the non-marital mediator as a proxenetas), then in Roman civilization, (Roman law, starting from Justinian's Digest of 530 - 533 CE) recognized mediation. The Romans called mediators by a variety of names, including internuncius, medium, intercessor, philantropus, interpolator, conciliator, interlocutor, interpres, and finally mediator.

Some cultures regarded the mediator as a sacred figure, worthy of particular respect; and the role partly overlapped with that of traditional wise men or tribal chief.

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