The Hammurabi Codex offers valuable insight into daily life in ancient Babylonia, but how laws worked in society is still debated. The statutes could have been a list of amendments to an even older and larger set of general laws, but they could also have served as a series of precedents compiled from real cases. Some historians have even argued that the codex was not a functional legal document at all, but a piece of royal propaganda created to root Hammurabi as a great and just ruler. However effective the Code may be, there is little doubt that the Pillar itself was intended for the public. In the epilogue of the codex, Hammurabi boasts that any man involved in a dispute can read its laws in such a way that “. Find out what is right, and his heart will be happy… Hammurabi`s edicts were an integral part of the ancient world, but the laws were lost later in history and were only rediscovered in 1901, when a team of French archaeologists excavated the famous diorite stele in Iran`s ancient city of Susa, once the seat of the Elamite Empire. Historians believe that the Elamite king Shutruk-Nahhunte looted the four-ton plate during a raid on the Babylonian city of Sippar in the 12th century BC and then brought it to Susa as a war chest. It is believed that Shutruk-Nahhunte erased several columns of the monument to make way for his own inscription, but no text was ever added. Today, the column is on display at the Louvre in Paris. Hammurabi`s empire declined after his death in 1750 BC. A.D. before settling in 1595 B.C. When a Hittite army plundered Babylon and claimed its wealth.
Nevertheless, the code of Hammurabi proved so influential that it lasted for several centuries as the legal leader in the region, even though domination over Mesopotamia changed hands several times. Copping code also seems to have been a popular task for writers in training. In fact, fragments of the laws have been found on clay tablets dating back to the 5th century BC – more than 1,000 years after Hammurabi`s reign. Hammurabi`s code was surprisingly ahead of its time when it came to laws dealing with issues such as divorce, property rights, and the prohibition of incest, but perhaps the most progressive was a provision imposing an old form of minimum wage. Several decrees in the code concerned specific professions and dictated how much workers had to pay. Farm labourers and shepherds were guaranteed a salary of “eight gours a year”, and oxen drivers and sailors received six gur. Doctors were allowed 5 shekels to heal a man born free of a fracture or other injury, but only three shekels for a freed slave and two shekels for a slave. Discover the fascinating history of one of the most important legal systems of antiquity. The Hammurabi Codex is one of the most famous examples of the ancient commandment of the “lex talionis,” or law of punishment, a form of retaliatory justice commonly associated with the saying “an eye for an eye.” In this system, a person who broke the bone of one of his peers broke in turn. Capital crimes, on the other hand, have often been sentenced to death as unique and horrific.
If a son and a mother were caught in the act of incest, they were burned; When an intriguing couple of lovers conspired to murder their spouses, the two were impaled. Even a relatively minor crime could result in a terrible fate for the perpetrator. For example, if a son beat his father, the code required that the boy`s hands be “cut off.” For crimes that could not be proven or refuted by hard evidence (such as allegations of witchcraft), the Code allowed for a “trial by torture” – an unusual practice in which the accused was placed in a life-threatening situation to establish his innocence. The code states that if an accused jumps into the river and drowns, his accuser must “take possession of his house.” However, if the gods spared the man and allowed him to escape unharmed, the accuser would be executed and the man who jumped into the river would receive his home. Although the Code of Hammurabi is known for its catalogue of barbaric punishments, it also created valuable precedents that have survived to this day. The compendium is one of the first legal documents to establish a doctrine ranging from “innocence to proof of guilt.” In fact, the Code places the burden of proof on the accuser when he says, “If someone files a crime with the elders and does not prove what he accused, he will be sentenced to death if it is a capital crime.” The Code also includes a modern approach to litigation. For example, if two parties had a dispute, the legal protocol allowed them to take their case to a judge and present evidence and witnesses in support of their claims. Hammurabi`s code took a brutal approach to justice, but the severity of criminal penalties often depended on the identity of the offender and the victim.
While a law ordered, “If a man pulls out the teeth of his own peer, his teeth will be pulled out,” the same crime against a member of a lower class was punishable only by a fine. Other penalties based on rank were even more important. If a man killed a pregnant “maid”, he was punished with a fine, but if he killed a pregnant woman “born free”, his own daughter was killed in retaliation. The code also lists different penalties for men and women with regard to marital infidelity. Men were allowed to have extramarital affairs with maids and slaves, but female philanthropists had to be tied up and thrown into the Euphrates with their lovers.