Laws of Ur-Nammu, Eshnunna and Hammurabi
The law codes of Ur-Nammu, Eshnunna and Hammurabi reveal some aspects of ancient Mesopotamia’s society and culture. According to Ancient Near Eastern History and Culture by William H. Stiebing Jr., The Laws of Ur-Nammu is the earliest law code known to humanity (Stiebing Jr. 82). Although Ur-Nammu, the founder of the Third Dynasty of Ur (2112-2004 BC), is credited with creating the code, experts discovered that Shulgi, Ur-Nammu’s son, actually created the law code (Stiebing Jr. 82). The Laws of Ur-Nammu was not an official law code, nor was it used by the court system in Ancient Mesopotamia (Stiebing Jr. 82). Shulgi intended The Laws of Ur-Nammu to reflect his just rule and provide a standard of justice throughout his territory (Stiebing Jr. 82). Unlike later law codes, The Laws of Ur-Nammu did not use the ‘eye for an eye’ concept to create punishments (Stiebing Jr. 82-83). The government executed murderers and female adulterers, but for most crimes, the criminal only had to pay a fine that varied based on the crime they committed (Pritchard 180-182). James B. Pritchard covers the translated version of The Laws of Ur-Nammu, along with the other law codes, in The Ancient Near East: An Anthology of Texts and Pictures. The Laws of Ur-Nammu covers crimes such as murder, marriage issues, bodily injury, sexual crimes, property issues, false accusations, and gossip (Pritchard 180-182).
The Laws of Eshnunna came from the kingdom of Eshnunna, which was east of the modern city of Baghdad (Pritchard 150). The kingdom of Eshnunna existed between the fall of the Third Dynasty of Ur and the rise of Hammurabi (Pritchard 150). The Laws of Eshnunna covers crimes such as theft, slavery, marriage issues, bodily injury, damage created by a person’s ox, and sexual crimes (Pritchard 150-155).
Hammurabi, king of the Babylonian empire from 1728-1686 BC, created The Code of Hammurabi during the Old Babylonian Dynasty (Pritchard...