Law Code of Hammurabi


First codified law code in history. Basic principles - an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth -  for example - if a mason built a house, the roof collapsed and the house owners son died during the accident, the mason's son has to be killed. Also, there law code required proof to convict someone, if you accused someone of murder and failed to prove your accusations, you were yourself killed. It operated on the presumption of innocence, or "innocent until proven guilty" - the cornerstone of modern western law codes and a great achievement of the time. Also, both the accused and the accuser can provide evidence for an against the case. 

The law code was depicted on a stele, had 282 laws on it and was written in cuneiform - the first ever alphabet invented by the Sumerians was used for it. The laws were written in Akkadian - an everyday language of Babylon. Depicted above is Hammurabi receiving the laws from the high god of Shamash or Marduk, Hammurabi was chosen by the gods to bring law to people. 
Some examples of laws:
- if a son strikes his father, his fingers must be cut off
- if a physician operates a patient and the patient dies, physicians fingers are cut off. If a slave dies, the physician must purchase another slave for equal value.
- if a man cuts of an orchard in somebody's garden without the owner's consent, he should give them silver.
- a father cannot disinherit his son without a good cause that judges would agree on.
- if an adopted child who was raised by his stepparents tells them "you are not my mother" or "you are not my father" his tongue must be cut out
-If a woman isn't a good servant to her husband, if she ruins the house and neglects her husband this woman shall be cast into the water.

Because he was a lawgiver, Hammurabi's image can be found on the U.S. House of Representatives in the Capitol and on the south wall of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Menes, Hammurabi and Moses depicted on the U.S. Supreme Court's south wall
Hammurabi in the House of Representatives, USA


Hammurabi's law code influenced many other societies and law codes in the region including the jewish law.