Codex Hammurabi

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An inscription of the Code of Hammurabi

The Code of Hammurabi was a code of Babylonian law.

It was written on a stele (a large stone monument), and put in a public place where everyone could see it. The stele was later captured by the Elamites and taken to their capital, Susa. It was found there again in 1901, and is now in the Louvre Museum in Paris.

The code of Hammurabi had 282 laws, written by scribes on 12 tablets. Unlike earlier laws, it was written in Akkadian, the daily language of Babylonia.

For each crime, a specific punishment is listed. The punishments tended to be harsh by modern standards. They included death, cutting off a body part, and the use of the "Eye for eye, tooth for tooth philosophy". The penalties of his laws may seem cruel to modern readers, but the fact that he put into writing the laws of his kingdom is considered an important step forward in the development of civilization.

The Code of Hammurabi was one of many sets of laws in the Ancient Near East.

Examples[change | change source]

  • If any one steal the property of a temple or of the court, he shall be put to death, and also the one who receives the stolen thing from him shall be put to death. (6)
  • If a man take a woman to marry, but have no sexual intercourse with her, this woman is no wife to him. (128)
  • If a son strike[s] his father, his hands shall be cut off. (195)
  • If a man put out the eye of another man, his eye shall be put out. (196)
  • If he break another man's bone, his bone shall be broken. (197)
  • If he put out the eye of a freed man, or break the bone of a freed man, he shall pay one gold mina. (198)
  • If he put out the eye of a man's slave, or break the bone of a man's slave, he shall pay one-half of its value. (199)
  • If a man knock out the teeth of his equal, his teeth shall be knocked out. (200)

Other websites[change | change source]

  • High resolution images and French description from the Louvre