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Who Created the Earliest Known Law Code

Did you know? The Code of Hammurabi contains many severe punishments that sometimes require the removal of the offender`s tongue, hands, breasts, eyes or ear. But the Code is also one of the earliest examples of the presumption of innocence of an accused until proven guilty. The codex was considered the first collection of Mesopotamian law when it was discovered in 1902 – for example, C. H. W. Johns` 1903 book was entitled The Oldest Code of Laws in the World. [31] The English writer H. G. Wells included Hammurabi in the first volume of The Outline of History, and also for Wells the code was “the oldest known codex.” [33] However, three earlier collections were later discovered: the Lipit-Ishtar Codex in 1947, the Laws of Eshnunna in 1948, and the Code of your-Nammu in 1952.

[34] Early commentators dated Hammurabi and the stele to the 23rd century BC. [35] However, this is an estimate that predates what even the “ultra-long chronology” could support. The code was compiled towards the end of Hammurabi`s reign. [36] This was partly inferred from the list of his accomplishments in the prologue. [37] Although the laws were promulgated under the king`s name, it is possible that they were published by his son Shulgi after your-Nammu`s death. The code was developed by Shulgi`s successors and influenced the form and underlying vision of later codes such as the laws of Eshnunna (c. 1930 BC) and the laws enacted during the reign of Lipit-Ishtar (c. 1870 to c. 1860 BC). These codes, in turn, served as a model for the Code of Hammurabi, which would influence the laws of other civilizations, especially the creation of the Mosaic Law of the Bible. As kings were considered the guardians of law and order, they often issued legal reforms, debt discharges and decrees, which were recorded in writing and are often referred to as legal texts, although there is no evidence that the courts ever referred to such edicts.

(105) The codex of your-Nammu was attributed to your-Nammu because the laws are directly attributed to him in the prologue. However, some scholars have argued that the Code of Law was written by Shulgi, the son and successor of your-Nammu. In any case, your-Nammu was a king of the Sumerian city-state of Ur. Despite the uncertainty surrounding these issues, Hammurabi is considered an important figure in legal history outside of Assyriology, and the document is considered a true legal code. The U.S. Capitol has a relief portrait of Hammurabi alongside those of other lawmakers, and there are replicas of the stele in many institutions, including the United Nations headquarters in New York and the Pergamon Museum in Berlin. The code gives an overview of the social structure during the Third Dynasty of Ur. Under the lugal (“great man” or king), all members of society belonged to one of two basic classes: the lu or free man or the slave (male, arad; female gem). A Lu`s son was called Dumu-nita until he married and became a “young man” (gurus). A woman (munus) went from a daughter (dumu-mi) to a woman (dam), and then, if she survived her husband, a widow (nu-ma-su) who could remarry. The law also provided for fines for crimes, which were to be dealt with much more severely under the subsequent Hammurabi Code. In the Ur-Nammu Codex, two offences in particular are noteworthy: It is known that earlier legal texts, such as the Urukagina Codex, existed.

Nevertheless, the codex differs from your-Nammu in that the text itself has largely survived. The actual contents of the Urukagina Codex have been lost in comparison and known only through references to other texts that have been discovered. Wolfram von Soden, who decades earlier called this way of thinking enumerating science,[119] often denigrated it. [120] However, recent authors such as Marc Van De Mieroop, Jean Bottero and Ann Guinan have either avoided value judgments or expressed admiration. Lists were at the heart of Mesopotamian science and logic, and their strong structural principles made it possible to generate endless entries. [118] The connection between the codex and the writing tradition in which the “science of lists” was born also explains why aspiring writers have copied and studied it for more than a millennium. [24] The codex appears at the end of the Babylonian (7th-6th century BC). List of literary and scientific texts. [121] No other body of law has been so firmly anchored in the curriculum. [122] Instead of a legal code, it can therefore be a scientific treatise. [100] However, the arguments against this view are strong.

First, it would result in a very unusual code – Reuven Yaron called the term “code” a “persistent misnomer.” [95] Important sectors of society and commerce are left out. [96] Marc Van De Mieroop, for example, notes that the Code “deals with livestock and agricultural fields, but almost completely ignores the work of herders, which is vital to the economy of Babylon.” [97] Second, contrary to legislative theory, highly implausible circumstances are generally recorded, such as threshing with goats, animals that are far too unruly for this task (Bill 270). [98] The laws are also strictly casuistic (“si. then”); Unlike the Mosaic law, there are no apodictic laws (general commandments). These would more clearly indicate a prescriptive law. The strongest argument against the legislative theory, however, is that most judges seem to have ignored the code. This criticism comes from Benno Landsberger in 1950. [87] No Mesopotamian legal document makes explicit reference to the Code or any other statute book,[92] despite the large size of the corpus.

[99] Two references to recipes on “a stele” (narû)[100] come closest to each other. On the other hand, many judgments cite royal decrees of mīšarum. [92] Raymond Westbrook argued that this reinforced the silence argument that the ancient legal codes of the Middle East had legal significance. [101] Moreover, many ancient Babylonian judgments completely contradict the provisions of the Codex. [102] The first legal code of Mesopotamia was the Urukagina Codex, written in the 24th century BC.


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