What are two unique facts about the Code of Hammurabi?

Answered by Tom Adger

The Code of Hammurabi, also known as Hammurabi’s Code, is one of the oldest known legal systems in history. It was created by Hammurabi, the sixth king of Babylon, around 1754 BCE. This code consists of 282 laws that cover various aspects of daily life in ancient Mesopotamia. Here are two unique facts about the Code of Hammurabi:

1. The Diorite Stele: One unique fact about the Code of Hammurabi is the way it was preserved and discovered. The code was inscribed on a stele, which is a large stone monument. The stele containing the code, known as the Diorite Stele, is made from diorite, a type of black rock. It stands about 7 feet tall and includes a detailed bas-relief carving showing Hammurabi receiving the laws from the god Shamash. The stele was originally found by French archaeologists in 1901-1902 in the ancient city of Susa, in modern-day Iran. Today, it is displayed in the Louvre Museum in Paris, France.

2. The Principle of Lex Talionis: Another unique aspect of the Code of Hammurabi is the principle of “lex talionis,” which means “law of retaliation” or “eye for an eye.” This principle is prominently featured in the code and is used to determine punishments for various offenses. According to this principle, if someone caused harm or injury to another person, then the punishment should be equivalent to the harm inflicted. For example, “If a man has knocked out the eye of a free man, his eye shall be knocked out.” While this principle may seem harsh by modern standards, it reflected the idea of proportionate justice in ancient Mesopotamian society.

In addition to these unique facts, it is worth mentioning that the Code of Hammurabi covers a wide range of topics, including property rights, marriage and family laws, labor regulations, and trade practices. It aimed to establish order and justice in society by outlining the rights and responsibilities of individuals. The code also had a social hierarchy, with different punishments for offenses committed by different social classes. It provides valuable insights into the social, economic, and legal systems of ancient Mesopotamia.