Code of Hammurabi

What is the Hammurabi Code?

The Hammurabi Code is a compilation of 282 laws of ancient Babylon (present-day Iraq), composed around 1772 BC Hammurabi is the sixth king of Babylon, responsible for enacting the code known with his name, which has survived until today is in part preserved copies, one in the form of a large monolith, the size of an average human, in addition to several smaller clay tablets.

Mesopotamian society:

When Hammurabi founded the First Babylonian Empire, he managed to unify the Mesopotamian region. This part of the planet is bounded by two very important rivers, which are the Tigris and the Euphrates, hence the name Mesopotamia, derived from the Greek, which means "land between rivers".

That is why we find in the code certain paragraphs that deal with irrigation and regulate the profession of a boatman. This already shows the importance of water, not only as a physical need, but for secondary purposes, but no less important.

Babylonian society was based on inequality.

The first class, and more numerous, was that of the Awilu, the citizens, owners, peasants, artisans and traders. 

In a middle position was the mushkenu, they are the semi-free, between free and slaves. It was formed by former slaves, declassified free men (plebs), often foreigners. 

Below these were the slave class, wardu, resulting mainly from war, but also determined by birth, under its heredity. 

The provisions in the Code cover all classes, but we can see that the legislation is made with total bias in favour of the upper class, the “awilum”. 

How important is the Hammurabi Code?

The historical importance of the Hammurabi Code is because it has become the legal source on which the laws of practically all the Semitic peoples of antiquity were based, including the Assyrians, the Chaldeans and the Hebrews themselves. 
The main themes of the code are criminal law, family law and professional, commercial, agricultural and administrative regulations. 
We can say that the Hammurabi Code is a fundamental milestone in the history of law because it was a pioneer in the regulation of criminal, civil and commercial rules, representing the historical trend of attributing to the State the protection of society.

Summary of the laws:

Ex. Law nr 127: If someone 'points the finger' at a sister of a god or the wife of anybody, and cannot prove it, this man will be taken before the judges and his brow must be marked (cutting the skin, or maybe hair).

Slavery and the status of slaves as property
Ex. Law nr 15: If someone takes a male or female slave from the court, or a slave or slave from a free man, outside the city gates, he should be put to death.

Duties of workers
Ex. Law nr 42: If someone takes over a field to cultivate it and get no harvest there, it must be proven that he did not work on the field, and he must deliver grain, as well as his raised neighbour, to the owner of the field.

Ex. Law nr 22: If someone is committing theft and is in prison, then they should be put to death.

Ex. Law nr 104: If a trader gives an agent of corn, wool, oil or any other goods for transportation, the agent must give a receipt for the quantity, and compensate the trader themselves. Then, he must obtain a receipt from the trader for . the money he gives the trader.

Ex. Law nr 53: If someone is too lazy to keep their dam in proper condition, and not to keep it if then the dam rupture and all fields are flooded, then if in whose dam the rupture occurred be sold for money, and the money must replace the corn it caused to be ruined.

Ex. Law nr 142: If a woman quarrels with her husband, and says: ‘You are not compatible with me’, the reasons for your injury must be presented. If she is innocent, and there is no fault on her part, but for him. leaves and neglects her, then it does not blame this woman, she will take her dowry and return to her father's house.

Ex. Law nr 129: If a man's wife was caught lying to another man, they would bind them and throw them into the water. If the wife's owner would save his wife, then, in turn, the king could save your servant.

You can find the original engraved large monolith, with the code of Hammurabi, in the Louvre museum in France.

Last modified: Friday, 5 Jun 2020, 23:18