] Hammurabi died and passed the reins of the empire on to his son Samsu-Iluna in ca. 1750 BC. [harvnb|Arnold|2005|p=42]

Code of laws

Hammurabi is best known for the promulgation of a new code of Babylonian law: the Code of Hammurabi. This was written on a stele, a large stone monument, and placed in a public place so that all could see it, although it is thought that few were literate. The stele was later plundered by the Elamites and removed to their capital, Susa; it was rediscovered there in 1901 and is now in the Louvre Museum in Paris. The code of Hammurabi contained 282 laws, written by scribes on 12 tablets. Unlike earlier laws, it was written in Akkadian, the daily language of Babylon, and could therefore be read by any literate person in the city. [harvnb|Breasted|2003|p=141]

The structure of the code is very specific, with each offense receiving a specified punishment. The punishments tended to be harsh by modern standards, with many offenses resulting in death, disfigurement, or the use of the "Eye for eye, tooth for tooth" (Lex Talionis "Law of Retaliation") philosophy. Putting the laws into writing was important in itself because it suggested that the laws were immutable and above the power of any earthly king to change. The code is also one of the earliest examples of the idea of presumption of innocence, and it also suggests that the accused and accuser have the opportunity to provide evidence. However, there is no provision for extenuating circumstances to alter the prescribed punishment.

A carving at the top of the stele portrays Hammurabi receiving the laws from the god Shamash, and the preface states that Hammurabi was chosen by the gods of his people to bring the laws to them. Parallels to this divine inspiration for laws can be seen in the laws given to Moses for the ancient Hebrews. Similar codes of law were created in several nearby civilizations, including the earlier neo-Sumerian example of Ur-Nammu's code, and the later Hittite code of laws. [cite book|title=Codes of Hammurabi and Moses|author=Davies, W. W.|publisher=Kessinger Publishing|date=January 2003|isbn=0766131246]

Legacy and depictions

Under the rules of Hammurabi's successors, the Babylonian Empire was weakened by military pressure from the Hittites, who sacked Babylon around 1600 BC.harvnb|DeBlois|1997|p=19] However it was the Kassites who eventually conquered Babylon and ruled Mesopotamia for 400 years, adopting parts of the Babylonian culture, including Hammurabi's code of laws.

Because of Hammurabi's reputation as a lawgiver, his depiction can be found in several U.S. government buildings. Hammurabi is one of the 23 lawgivers depicted in marble bas-reliefs in the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives in the United States Capitol. [cite web|accessdate=2008-05-19|url=http://www.aoc.gov/cc/art/lawgivers/hammurabi.cfm|title=Hammurabi|publisher=Architect of the Capitol] An image of Hammurabi receiving the Code of Hammurabi from the Babylonian sun god (probably Shamash) is depicted on the frieze on the south wall of the U.S. Supreme Court building. [cite web|accessdate=2008-05-19|url=http://www.supremecourtus.gov/about/north&southwalls.pdf|title=Courtroom Friezes|publisher=Supreme Court of the United States]

ee also

*Assyrian law
*Hebraic law




External links

* [http://www.louvre.fr/llv/dossiers/detail_oal.jsp?CONTENT%3C%3Ecnt_id=10134198673229909&CURRENT_LLV_OAL%3C%3Ecnt_id=10134198673229909&FOLDER%3C%3Efolder_id=0&bmLocale=en A Closer Look at the Code of Hammurabi (Louvre museum)]
* [http://hammu-rabi.blogspot.com/ Etymology of the word 'Hammurabi']

SHORT DESCRIPTION=King of Babylon and creator of first known code of laws in the world.

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Look at other dictionaries:

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