History for the Rest of Us

Code of Hammurabi

Code of Hammurabi

Nov 2, 2012

Dating to approximately 1772 B.C., the Code of Hammurabi is one of the oldest deciphered writings of any significant length in the world, and is the longest surviving text from the Old Babylonian period. The Code represents one of the earliest examples of the concept of ‘presumption of innocence’, and also suggests that both accuser and accused may provide evidence. The Code is a series of Babylonian laws enacted by Hammurabi, the sixth king of Babylon. The code itself exists in multiple formats. A nearly complete version exists in the Louvre. It is over seven feet tall. Code of Hammurabi 1. If a man weave a spell and put a ban upon a man, and has not justified himself, he that wove the spell upon him shall be put to death. 2. If a man has put a spell upon a man, and has not justified himself, he upon whom the spell is laid shall go to the holy river, he shall plunge into the holy river, and if the holy river overcome him, he who wove the spell upon him shall take to himself his house. If the holy river makes that man to be innocent, and has saved him, he who laid the spell upon him shall be put to death. He who plunged into the holy river shall take to himself the house of him who wove the spell upon him. 3. If a man, in a case pending judgement, has uttered threats against the witnesses, or has not justified the word that he has spoken, if that case be a capital suit, that man shall be put to death. 4. If he has offered corn or money to the witnesses, he shall himself bear the sentence of that case. 5. If a judge has judged a judgement, decided a decision, granted a sealed sentence, and afterwards has altered his judgement, that judge, for the alteration of the judgement that he judged, one shall put him to account, and he shall pay twelvefold the penalty which was in the said judgement, and in the assembly one shall expel him from his judgement seat, and he shall not return, and with the...