The Code of Hammurabi is a seven foot tall statue on display in the Louvre. If you don’t know the importance of this statue then you probably will take a quick look and then move on. But when you go up close and inspect the statue and the carvings you will understand why it is one of the top 10 attractions in the Louvre. The Code of Hammurabi is an example of well preserved laws of ancient Babylon dating back to 1700 BC. In fact it is the first written code of law in human history.
The top part of the statue shows a man sitting on what looks like a throne with a man standing in front of him. It is in fact Hammurabi depicted as standing and receiving his royal insignia from Shamash.
Examples of the hammurabi law
– in their entirety, of the Code, translated into English:
- If a builder builds a house for someone, and does not construct it properly, and the house which he built falls in and kills its owner, then the builder shall be put to death. (Another variant of this is, If the owner’s son dies, then the builder’s son shall be put to death.)
- If a son strikes his father, his hands shall be hacked off.
- If anyone steals the minor son of another, he shall be put to death.
- If a man takes a woman to wife, but has no intercourse with her, this woman is no wife to him.
- If a man strikes a pregnant woman, thereby causing her to miscarry and die, the assailant’s daughter shall be put to death.
- If a man puts out the eye of an equal, his eye shall be put out. Known as an eye for an eye
- If a man knocks the teeth out of another man, his own teeth will be knocked out.
- If anyone strikes the body of a man higher in rank than he, he shall receive sixty blows with an ox-whip in public.
- If the slave of a freed man strikes the body of a freed man, his ear shall be cut off.
- If anyone commits a robbery and is caught, he shall be put to death.
- If anyone opens his ditches to water his crop, but is careless, and the water floods his neighbor’s field, he shall pay his neighbor corn for his loss.
- If a judge tries a case, reaches a decision, and presents his judgment in writing; and later it is discovered that his decision was in error, and it was his own fault, he shall pay twelve times the fine set by him in the case and be removed from the judge’s bench.
I have to wonder what will happen in our Western society if these laws would apply?
Where: Louvre Museum, Paris
When: April 2004