Code of Hammurabi

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“Mesopotamia’s sense of insecurity resulted in its producing not only great philosophical literature but also detailed legal codes” (Andrea, and Overfield 13). The Code of Hammurabi is the most famous of collection of laws produced throughout the early riverine societies offering us insights on the lives of Mesopotamia. Through extensive historical analysis of the Judgments of Hammurabi, the Code of Hammurabi can tell us that there was evidence of social structure, duties of public officials and a legal system, and consumer protection through a centralized government in ancient Mesopotamia.

The Code of Hammurabi was written by King Hammurabi in Babylon’s First Dynasty (1792 BCE-1750 BCE), where he was known for uniting Mesopotamia under one centralized government (Tignor 113). The Code consisted of more than 300 decisions or punishments to a wide variety of crimes committed, and were inscribed on a stone pillar that measured more than seven feet tall and six feet in circumference (Andrea, and Overfield 13). Although not much is known about King Hammurabi, his motives for writing the code of laws were believed to maintain order in Mesopotamia which he wanted to last forever (Andrea, and Overfield 13).

One aspect of Mesopotamian civilization that is evident in the Code is social structure. Three classes can be derived from the Code, free men and women, common folk and slaves with each receiving an assigned value and distinct rights (Tignor 114). The people who were upper class received equal retaliation, as the Code states in law 196 “If a man has destroyed the eye of another free man, his own eye stall be destroyed” (Andrea, and Overfield 16). Oppositely, the lower class usually received compensation in the form of money for their losses as seen in law 198 that states, “If a man has destroyed the eye of a peasant, he shall pay one mina of silver” (Andrea, and Overfield 16). Also, for slaves it states that in law 199 “If he has destroyed the eye of a man’s...
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