Hammurabi: Code of Hammurabi Laws – Mesopotamian Civilization

The code of Hammurabi is often believed as the oldest written law on record. Under this system, if a man broke the bone of one of his equals, then as a punishment, his bone would be broken. Hammurabi was the sixth king of the Babylonian dynasty.

Who was Hammurabi?

The Amorite ruler Hammurabi was the most famous Mesopotamian (Mostly modern-day Iran and some parts of Iran, Turkey, and Syria) ruler, who ruled from 1792 BC to 1750 BC according to the middle chronology.

What do you understand by chronology here?

It is an arrangement of the event or dates in the order of their occurrence.

Hammurabi

He was the sixth ruler of the Babylon dynasty. His name reflects a mixture of cultures where Hammu stands for ‘family’ and rapi stands for ‘great’ in Amorite and Akkadian cultures respectively.

Do you know about the territories of Hammurabi’s kingdom?

During the 30th year of his reign, he started to expand his territories up and down to the Tigris and Euphrates river valley by overthrowing the kingdoms of Assyria, Larsa, Eshunna, and Mari until the whole Mesopotamia was under his rule. He is best known for his “Code of Hammurabi”, which he claimed to be received from “Shamash”, the Babylonian god of justice. He emphasized the physical punishment for the criminal.

Code of Hammurabi

Hammurabi’s code of law was the collection of 282 rules inscribed on a stone. The code of Hammurabi was one of the earliest and most complete written legal codes. Hammurabi was much concerned about his people and he just wanted to be a ruler so he constructed a code of law to deal with every aspect of human life.

Can you tell where were Hammurabi’s laws written?

This code of law is engraved on a massive, finger-shaped black stone stele. At its top is a two-and-a-half-feet relief carving of a standing Hammurabi receiving the law—symbolized by a measuring rod and tape—from the seated Shamash, the God of Justice.

The rest of the seven-foot-five-inch monument is covered with columns of chiseled cuneiform script. The code says that the Gods had given the royal power to Hammurabi to protect the weak from the strong. So, students let us now learn about the number of laws or rules which were carved over this stone?

Hammurabi’s code of law is a collection of 282 rules or legal decisions. It has laws dealing with marriage, family, trade, treatment of workers, prosperity, theft, etc. This code includes many harsh punishments, sometimes demanding the removal of the guilty person’s tongue, hands eye or ear based on the principle of an ‘eye for an eye’ (the loss of anything will be recovered in the same way as it was done) and ‘tooth for a tooth’.

Under this system, if a man broke the bone of one of his equals, then in return his bone would also be broken. This code is also one of the earliest examples of an accused person being considered innocent until proven guilty.

The “Code of Hammurabi” took a brutal approach to justice, but the brutality of the punishment often depended on the identity of both the lawbreaker and the victim. The punishments were different for men and women.

Below are some examples of “Hammurabi Laws”:

• If a man marries a woman, and she bears sons to him; when this woman dies, then shall her father have no claim on her dowry; this belongs to her sons.
• If a man put out the eye of another man, his eye shall be put out.
• If a man strikes a free-born woman so that she loses her unborn child, he shall pay ten shekels (monetary unit of modern Israel) for her loss.
• If a physician heals the broken bone or diseased soft part of a man the patient shall pay the physician five shekels in money.
• If a veterinary surgeon performs a serious operation on an ass or an ox, and cures it, the owner shall pay the surgeon one-sixth of a shekels as a fee.

Exercise –

1. The total length of the code of law stone stele is approximately _________ feet.
a. 6
b. 8
c. 10
d. 11

2. How many rules or legal decisions are there in Hammurabi’s code of conduct?
a. 100
b. 1000
c. 287
d. 282

3. Hammurabi’s code of conduct is based on the principle of ________
a. An eye for a tooth
b. Tooth for an eye
c. Hand for a leg
d. An eye for an eye

4. The code of Hammurabi says that the Gods had given the ____________to Hammurabi to protect the weak from the strong.
a. Normal powers
b. Special powers
c. Superpowers
d. Royal powers

5. The code of Hammurabi was one of the earliest and most _____________ legal codes.
a. Complete Printed
b. Encrypted
c. Decrypted
d. Complete written

Exercise:

1. Hammurabi was the __________ ruler of the Babylon dynasty.
a. 3rd
b. 4th
c. 5th
d. 6th

2. Hammurabi was a ________________ ruler.
a. Hammu
b. Akkadian
c. Rapi
d. Amorite

3. Hammurabi expanded his territories up and down to the…………… valley.
a. Tigris, Nile
b. Nile, Euphrates
c. Nile, Sindh
d. Tigris, Euphrates

4. The duration of Hammurabi’s ruling period was from ……… BC to ………… BC.
a. 1750, 1712
b. 1700, 1650
c. 1300, 1200
d. 1792, 1750

5. During the ______ of Hammurabi’s reign, he started expanding his territories.
a. 10th year
b. 20th year
c. 36th year
d. 30th year

Read More:

Civilisation: Definition, Features Of Civilisation and Examples

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