Code of Hammurabi (Long Version)

(1752 BCE)

The Code of Hammurabi was written around 1752 BCE in Babylonia—modern-day Iraq—by King Hammurabi of the First Dynasty of Babylon and was carved onto a monumental stone stela. At that point in time, Hammurabi had just finished conquering several powerful states to establish his own kingdom as the preeminent power in the ancient Near East. Hammurabi was in the process of solidifying his kingdom, a course of action that depended on his fulfilling the role of a good Mesopotamian king by worshipping the gods, providing for his people, and creating a peaceful, just society in all of his cities.

The Code of Hammurabi was written in order to achieve these goals. The monumental stela bears an image and three sections of text: prologue, laws, and epilogue. In the image, prologue, and epilogue, the primary focus is on establishing Hammurabi as a good, just, and divinely sanctioned king. In the law section, Hammurabi demonstrates his judicial wisdom, given by the sun god Shamash,...

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Hammurabi (Library of Congress)

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