The Oldest Code of Laws in the World

C. H. W. Johns

The Oldest Code of Laws in the World, by C. H. W. Johns - click to see full size image

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This is an early twentieth-century translation of the Code of Hammurabi, one of the most important monuments in the history of the human race. One of the oldest deciphered writings of significant length in the world, it is a well-preserved Babylonian code of law of ancient Mesopotamia, dating back to around 1754 BC. It was enacted by King Hammurabi, the sixth king of the First Babylonian Dynasty. The code is inscribed on a stele, a large stone monument, and consists of 282 laws that cover various aspects of society, including trade, family relations, labor, personal property, and civil rights. The laws are written in the Akkadian language and are known for their detailed and rigorous nature, reflecting the values and social norms of the time. The Code of Hammurabi is notable for its law of retribution, often summarized by the phrase 'an eye for an eye.' This principle was meant to ensure justice by prescribing specific punishments for specific offenses, aiming to deter wrongdoing and maintain social order. The laws also provide insights into the social hierarchy and class structure of Babylonian society, as penalties often varied depending on the social status of the accused and the victim. The code's introduction emphasizes Hammurabi's role as a just ruler appointed by the gods to bring about fairness and protect the weak, underscoring the divine endorsement of his authority and the laws he established. This ancient legal document remains a crucial artifact for understanding the early development of legal systems and the administration of justice in human history.

This book has 12,456 words, 19 pages in the PDF version, and was originally published in 1903.

Production notes: This ebook of The Oldest Code of Laws in the World was published by Global Grey in 2019, and updated on the 9th July 2024. The artwork used for the cover is 'On the Waters of Babylon' by Gebhard Fugel.

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