Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Western World in 300 Events: Event 9 - Code of Hammurabi

Dating back to 1754 BC the Code of Hammurabi is one of the oldest deciphered law codes that exist. The code was produced during the reign of Babylonian king Hammurabi and consists of 282 Laws dealing with contracts, liability, property damage, divorce, sexual behaviour and paternity. Punishments are scaled and more importantly standardized but are nevertheless severe by today’s barometer with a strong emphasis on an eye-for-an-eye philosophy. This appears to have influenced later Mosaic Law.

The code was discovered by archaeologists in 1901 and is written in the Akkadian cuneiform writing. It is currently on display in the Louvre in Paris and appears on a diorite stele (slab) that resembles an index finger. There are several replicas of the code that exist elsewhere.

Like most ancient codes the Hammuabi stele is given credence on a celestial level as evidenced by a depiction of the god Shamash (god of Justice) giving authority to Hammurabi - an early deference to the divine right of kings.

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