Mesopotamia in the Hammurabi Code
Understanding ancient societies dating back thousands of years is often quite difficult because of the lack of primary sources and artifacts of those societies. Many civilizations have vanished under the blanket of time, leaving no trace behind of its actual existence. However, understanding a blooming and developed civilization called Mesopotamia could be made possible through studying a set of laws which compose the Hammurabi Code. Through the Hammurabi Code, the very essence of Mesopotamian society is revealed. These laws insinuate a patriarchal society in which free-born men dominated, and women, kids, slaves, and freed men clearly did not share the same rights as the free-born men. In laws 195-205, the Code specifically demonstrates that the men of the house have the most rights in the society. These laws show the relationships between a father and his son, a man and another man of equal social rank, a man and another man of a higher rank, and a man and freed men or slaves. The only time the law punishes a man in the same manner in which the man committed the crime is when he commits said crime against someone of equal status. For example, law 196 states, “If a man puts out the eye of another man, his eye shall be put out.” The next law states, “If he breaks another man’s bane, his bone shall be broken.” However, if a man commits a crime against someone of higher status than himself, he is punished greatly, like getting whipped in public. If the crime is committed against a freed-born man or a slave, the punishment is not as severe, often times the punishment was not even cruel enough to be considered a punishment. If a man strikes a freed-born man or a slave, he usually has to pay a small amount of money. These ten laws show not only that there existed a social hierarchy, consisting of an upper class, middle class, and a lower class, which freed men and slaves probably constituted. Also apparent in the...
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