Sunday, July 10, 2005

What is the earliest surviving system of laws?


The Code of Hammurabi is the earliest known example of a ruler publicly proclaiming to his people an entire set of laws, in an orderly arrangement, so that all of men might read and known what was required of them. Hammurabi was a ruler of ancient Babylon, probably from around 1795 B.C. to about 1750 B.C. His code was carved on a black stone monument, in 3,600 lines of cuneiform, standing eight feet high, and obviously intended for public view. This monument was discovered in 1901, not in Babylon, but in the Persian mountains, where it had probably been carried by some triumphant conqueror. It begins and ends with addresses to the gods and curses for anyone who neglects or destroys the law. It then goes on to list an organized code of laws and regulations for society.

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