The Code of Hammurabi: Introduction Introduction Charles F. Many relics of Hammurabi's reign [ BC] have been preserved, and today we can study this remarkable King.
One of the most influential codifications of law in ancient history, the text provides students with a concrete example of the expanding influence of centralized government on the personal and professional lives of the general population. It also gives students a clear sense of the ways ancient Babylonians invested divine authority in their secular leaders.
I have used this text very successfully in my lower-level undergraduate World Civilizations course, integrating it not only into units on the contributions of Tigris-Euphrates civilizations, but also in the context of thematic discussions of the influence of patriarchy and religion on government structures.
Preparing students is essential for a solid understanding of how to contextualize this source. My approach is to provide an introductory lecture about the social, political, and spiritual values of the Mesopotamians, as well as to assign readings from a textbook 1 that provides primary evidence to support my points.
Thus, by the time we come to discuss the source in class, students have been introduced to several key concepts regarding the text, both theoretical and historically specific. The transition from pictographs and hieroglyphics to cuneiform, and its possibilities for the spread of bureaucracy and literacy, is something that is not immediately obvious to students.
I begin by showing a picture of Hammurabi receiving his authority from the Babylonian deities, taken from monument copies of the Code. I find this to be a useful exercise because it provides a visual representation of the Mesopotamian belief that government officials received their authority from the gods.
This is an important concept for students to recognize because it lends tremendous credibility for Hammurabi in his ability to enforce the laws he presents in his Code.
Also, I conduct a discussion with students about the meaning of governments writing down laws for public consumption. This usually provokes them to think about the responsibilities of the public and their need to know the laws once they are written down, as well as the enforcement privileges that codification gives to those maintaining law and order.
At last, the time comes to talk about the source itself. Sitting with students in a circle, I lead a discussion of the Code, with a particular focus on selections illustrating the varied punishments for crimes according to class and gender.
For example, the 8th law of the Code reads: This point is well illustrated with laws According to these passages, attackers of slaves are to pay less compensation than attackers of free men and women. This is a particularly fruitful section of the Code for class discussions because of its blatant distinctions between the material value of victims.
In terms of gender, the Code also demonstrates clearly the extensive nature of patriarchal authority in Babylonian culture. For example, the th law of the Code states: Patriarchy is further illustrated with the many laws that grant protection to women from patriarchal abuse.
However, students are usually quick to realize that all of these protections discuss women in terms of chattel, similar to slaves. This provides, then, another example of the way the Code reflects upon larger issues of social stratification in Babylonian society.
Finally, students often recognize that the Code demonstrates the way the Babylonian state attempted to regulate morality in an effort to maintain social order.
By codifying, and subsequently enforcing, laws of morality, the government extended its power over the private lives of its population, as well as their economic relationships or religious beliefs. I have found that the usefulness of this particular source reaches far beyond an understanding of Babylonian history.
Oxford University Press,pp.Hammurabi’s code differed from the earlier laws in significant ways. The historian Kriwaczek explains this, writing: Hammurabi’s laws reflect the shock of an unprecedented social environment: the multi-ethnic, multi-tribal Babylonian world.
Charles F. Horne: The Code of Hammurabi: Introduction [Hammurabi] was the ruler who chiefly established the greatness of Babylon, the world's first metropolis. The early history of the country is the story of a struggle for supremacy between the cities. A metropolis demanded tribute and military support from its subject cities but left.
Code Of Hammurabi Essays - Code Of Hammurabi The people of ancient Babylon lived their lives not how they wanted to, but by "The Code of Hammurabi". The code was the major reflector and shaper in the ancient Babylonian society.
The Code of Hammurabi Introduction. Charles F. Horne, Ph.D.
[Hammurabi] was the ruler who chiefly established the greatness of Babylon, the world's first metropolis. The Code of Hammurabi is the longest surviving text from the Old Babylonian period. Almost completely preserved, the code is far more significant in legal history than any of its forerunners, such as that of Ur-Nammu.
laws, carved in forty-nine columns on a basalt stele, address a variety of topics in civil, criminal, and commercial law. The Code of Hammurabi was one of the first law code to place restrictions on what a wronged person was allowed to do in retribution.
 The structure of the code is very specific, with each offense receiving a specified punishment.