Dexileos Stele (detail)

Dexileos Stele (detail)

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Stele with law code of Hammurabi, Susa, Iran, 1780, Basalt

As we have seen, the Mesopotamian people have been revolutionary in many ways. Another first achieved by these people is the creation of a law code. In the early 18 th century BCE, King Hammurabi of Babylon created a comprehensive law code for his people. This event really goes to show just how advanced the people of Mesopotamia were. At the time, parts of Europe were still in the Stone Age and even in Greece, it took more than a thousand years later for Draco to provide Athens with its first written set of laws. Thus, I think that it’s important to discuss the stele containing King Hammurabi’s law code.

King Hammurabi’s law code is engraved on a tall black stele made of basalt. The top of the stele is a high relief carving which depicts the king receiving authority from one of the Mesopotamian gods. King Hammurabi is in the presence of Shamash, the flame-shouldered sun god of the Mesopotamian people. The god is handing King Hammurabi a rod and a ring that symbolize authority. According to Gardner’s Art Through the Ages, the symbols derive from builders’ tools— measuring rods and coiled rope— and connotes the ruler’s capacity to build the social order and to measure people’s lives, that is, to render judgments and enforce laws spelled out on the stele. This depiction was meant to justify King Hammurabi’ s authority as God-given and to justify his right to formulate the comprehensive set of written laws for the Babylonian people.

King Hammurabi’s stele is noteworthy from an artistic standpoint. Shamash, the god, is depicted in the traditional composite view, combining front and side views, but with two important exceptions. The god’s headdress is in complete profile view so that only four horns, not all eight horns, are visible to the viewer admiring the work. The second exception is the use of foreshortening, that is, a way of alluding to depth in a work of art by representing the figure or the subject at an angle instead of in strict frontal or profile view. Its use can be seen in Shamash’s beard, which is a series of diagonal lines, not horizontal lines. Thus, the artist used foreshortening to suggest a recession into space.

The importance of King Hammurabi’s written set of laws in the history of mankind cannot be overstated. It was the first ever written legal document and it provided society with order and structure. Because it governed all aspects of Babylonian life (from commerce to property to marriage to infidelity to theft), it teaches us a lot about Mesopotamian society.

The extensive set of laws that King Harmmurabi formulated are carved under the high relief sculpture. The judicial code was written in Akkadian and carved in 3,500 lines of cuneiform characters.

The following are a few examples of laws inscribed on the stele:

1. If a man puts out the eye of another man, his eye shall be put out.

2. If he kills a man’s slave, he shall pay one-third of a mina.

3. If someone steals property from a temple, he will be put to death, as will the person who receives the stolen goods.

4. If a man rents a boat and the boat is wrecked, the renter shall replace the boat with another.

5. If a married woman dies before bearing any sons, her dowry shall be repaid to her father, but if she gave birth to sons, the dowry shall belong to them.

6. If a man’s wife is caught in bed with another man, both will be tied up and thrown in the water.

Thus, it is quite evident that this work of art is significant for its artistic and historical impact.


For bricks from the Tower of Babel, stamped with Nebuchadnezzar's name, used during the rebuilding, see MS 1815/1-3. For the only other known architect's plan of a known temple, see MS 3031.

The middle part of the inscription has been carefully erased, but the conquering ruler's inscription was never inserted instead. The same thing happened to the Law stele of Hammurapi, which was seized by the Elamites as war booty from Babylonia in the 12th century BC and taken to Susa, where it subsequently was found (Now in Louvre). This parallel, and archaeological and literary evidence (Ctesias c. 400 BC, and Aelian c.175-235 AD) leads to the possibility that also the Tower of Babel Stele was taken as war booty, most likely by Xerxes in the invasion in 483 BC. Like the Elamites before him, he kept a treasure-house of spoils of war at Susa, and possibly other sites as well. Actually one of the foundation cylinders of E-temen-anki was found in Susa during de Morgan's excavations at the end of the 19th century. But there can be no firm answers to these various possibilities. (See George pp. 163-165 in his publication mentioned below). More research details.

The ziggurat in Babylon was originally built around the time of Hammurabi 1792-1750 BC. The restoration and enlargement began under Nabopolassar, and was finished after 43 years of work under Nebuchadnezzar II, 604-562 BC. It has been calculated that at least 17 million bricks had to be made and fired. Babylon with the ziggurat was captured by Kyros 538 BC (who pulled down the 3 stair ramps so the tower could not be used as a fortress), Darius I 519 BC, Cyrus ca. 483 BC, and entirely taken down by Alexander I the Great 331 BC, due to the structural water damage caused by the removed ramps, but his rebuilding plans failed.

Until now our knowledge of the Tower of Babel has been based on the account in Genesis 11:1-9, and of Herodotus: The Histories I:178 - 182, with the measurement of the first 2 stages, and a Seleucid tablet of 229 BC (Louvre AO 6555), giving the sizes of the stages. However, no contemporary illustrations have been known, resulting in a long series of fanciful paintings throughout the art history until present. Here we have for the first time an illustration contemporary with Nebuchadnezzar II's restoring and enlargement of the Tower of Babel, and with a caption making the identity absolutely sure. We also have the building plans, as well as a short account of the reconstruction process. The text also mentions the restoration of the E-ur-imin-anki ziggurat in Borsippa, once believed by some scholars to be the Tower of Babel.

The text mentioning Nebuchadnezzar mobilizing workforces from all over the then known world to complete the Tower of Babel, people speaking a confusion of all the known languages at the time, raises the question: Did God really come down from heaven to earth to interfere in a building enterprise by creating language confusion as stated in the Bible? The account in Genesis 11 could, according to the text, have an entirely different and practical background: Obviously all the tens of thousands of workers speaking different languages, could not communicate with each other, and this caused a total confusion at this huge building project, which lasted 43 years. Neither the Babylonian gods nor Yahweh needed to come down from heaven to interfere and cause language confusion. And most importantly, the Jews taken into captivity in 586 BC after destruction of Jerusalem, were there in Babylon and observed the building of the Tower and the confusion. So when the Genesis text was composed by the Jews during the Babylonian exile and after return to their homeland in 539 BC, this down to earth chaotic building story had to be put in a theological context, and hence the present text in Genesis 11:1-9. Also note the link to Acts 2 where the Holy Spirit reverses the language confusion and makes everyone understand each other.

What is Really Depicted in the ‘Khufu’ Cartouche

I had seen pictures before of the Cartouche supposedly found in the Great Pyramid by Howard Vyse in 1837 and never questioned it other than to suspect that it had been placed there by workers doing restoration work during the time of the 4th Dynasty Pharaoh, who according to that one and only cartouche was called ‘Khufu’. It was only when I decided to take a look at the Kings Lists for ‘Khufu’ and the Pharaohs credited with building the other two large Giza Pyramids that I spotted a very serious anomaly. Virtually all the kings of Egypt had a God name, which like a ‘Christian’ name became part of their full name and throughout all of Dynastic Egypt the one overall God was ‘RA’, who was thought of as the Sun. This god name even lingers on today in names like ‘Rachel’, ‘Rebecca’ and ‘Ralph’, as does another Egyptian God Name ‘Iah’ or ‘Yah’ which we find in ‘James’ (at one time Iames), ‘Jeremiah’, and ‘Isaiah’. When I looked at the Abedjw (Abydos) Kings list, the god name ‘RA’ sprang out in long lines of cartouches. There are at least 40 cartouches in the first two lines of this list with the very recognizable Plain Sun Disc at the head of the name. It is easy to pick out Djedefre, said to be Khufu’s successor, and also Khafre. So, the previous cartouche should have a name beginning with a Disc filled with a crosshatch, but it isn’t. It has the same plain sun disc as all the others - bearing the God name ‘RA’.

Drawing of the cartouches in the Abydos King List, with detail of the ‘Khufu’ cartouche. ( CC BY SA 3.0 )

This cartouche does in fact spell out RA F W - not at all like ‘Khufu’ as they want us to believe. The hieroglyph for this sound is . As we can see, the parallel lines extend from one side of the circle to the other and there are 5 in number. There isn’t one cartouche with this hieroglyph in any of the Kings Lists I have found - yet this is the cartouche allegedly found by Howard Vyse in 1837 in the Great Pyramid and this is the only item upon which every mainstream Egyptologist claims to prove that a King called Khufu built it:

What we see here is completely different as there are two Quail Chick hieroglyphs to start with, representing the letter ‘W’, and the Sun Disc looks like there was an attempt to draw in the 5 parallel lines but all we have are three tiny strokes. In any case, this is not one of the two cartouches that Vyse copied from some other source into his diary. In one of his rough drawings the Sun Disc has a blob and not one line or stroke - that is what he presented as proof for the name ‘Khufu’.

It was only after I spotted this that I discovered others had noticed the fraud before me and one honest researcher, Scott Creighton had his book, ‘The Great Pyramid Hoax’ published in December 2016. From the reviews much more came to light. One member of the team that accompanied Vyse into the pyramid would have nothing to do with what he saw being done and immediately left the team. A descendant of Humphries Brewer claims that his ancestor saw paint being used - that can be the only explanation for the cartouche today in the Great Pyramid having different markings in the Sun Disc from the drawing Vyse made and claimed to have seen. Someone in more recent years has tried to make the hieroglyph look more like the one for the ‘Kh’ letters.

As the Abedjw Kings List was inscribed in the mortuary temple of Sety I circa 1279 BC, I tried to find an earlier Kings List - and there is one called ‘The Giza Writing Board’ which dates to the 5th Dynasty. This would therefore be at the most about two centuries later than the King Name in question. Once again, we have the same name as appears in the Abedjw Kings List:

These cartouches are in a slightly different order, Refw, Khafre, and Djedefre and the only obvious difference is a rectangular hieroglyph for the letter F in the top cartouche instead of the horned viper hieroglyph we see in the Abedjw List. The dot in the Sun Disc was often inserted for the God Name RE. There is no way that this could possibly be read as ‘Khufu’.

This all puts a big question over the character of Howard Vyse. What has been found is that he was corrupt and bribed his way into Parliament in 1807 and bribed the Pasha of Egypt in 1837 in order to get a permit. He was also ruthless and blasted his way into the Great Pyramid with explosives. He had to have known that the pyramid was once regarded as sacred to the Egyptians, but he had no respect for such an amazing Wonder of the World. I doubt that he would have used gunpowder to blast his way into a cathedral hunting for secret passages. He was not only seeking a fortune in his quest, but was also determined to prove his belief that all creation began only 6000 years ago as indicated by the bible.

Apart from the erosion evidence to date the Sphinx, Robert Bauval has been able to put a date on the building of the Three Giza Pyramids as their positioning would only have been exactly the same as that of the Stars in Orion’s Belt around the year 10,450 BC - this closely agrees with the time when flood waters or tropical rain water submerged the Sphinx.

Gerry and I have compiled a chapter in our book about the Orion constellation and its connection to other pyramids and ancient sites around the world.

Constellation Orion as it can be seen by the naked eye. ( CC BY-SA 3.0 )

Finally, I have to recommend the author Graham Hancock’s “Magician of the Gods” for this not only brings us up to date with a number of more recent discoveries such as Gobekli Tepe in Turkey, but he points out that the Sphinx would have been looking directly at the sun rising on the eastern horizon and at the constellation of Leo in the epoch of 10,500 BC. This means that we have three correlations between the Sphinx and Giza Pyramids and a very wet climate at the same point in time.

Major archaeological sites & findings

There are many important biblical archaeology sites and artifacts, but a few are more well-recognized than others.

The Dead Sea Scrolls consist of fragments from 900 manuscripts found in 12 caves near the site of Qumran in the West Bank. They contain some of the earliest known copies of the Hebrew Bible and include calendars, hymns, community rules and apocryphal (non-canonical) texts. One of the scrolls, inscribed on copper, has a list of hidden treasure.

Another important biblical find is the Merneptah stele (an inscribed stone slab) &mdash also called the Israel stele. Discovered in Luxor, it contains the earliest mention of the name "Israel." Engraved around 1207 B.C., it includes a list of places in the eastern Mediterranean that the Egyptian pharaoh Merneptah claims to have conquered. The pharaoh claimed that "Israel is laid waste, his seed is no more."

Megiddo was an ancient city in Israel that was occupied for 6,000 years and is mentioned numerous times in the Bible. A Greek name for the city is "Armageddon," and, according to the Book of Revelation, a great battle between the forces of good and evil will be waged at Megiddo during the end times.

Another important site is the Herodium, a palace built for King Herod (who lived ca. 74 to 4 B.C.), a king appointed by Rome to rule Judea. Herod was vilified in the New Testament with stories claiming that he tried to kill baby Jesus. For decades, scholars have struggled to reconcile the biblical account of the attempted murder with the knowledge that Herod probably died before Jesus was born. [In Photos: The Controversial 'Tomb of Herod']

Another famous site is the Temple Mount (known as Haram esh-Sharif in Arabic) in Jerusalem. It is the holiest site in Judaism and the third holiest in Islam. Its religious importance along with the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict means that little archaeology work has been done there.

King David’s Palace

The Large Stone Structure was identified by archaeologist, Eilat Mazar, as the palace of King David. Photo: Photo courtesy of Dr. Eilat Mazar.

In 2005, Israeli archaeologist, Dr. Eilat Mazar, announced that she had unearthed the remains of David’s palace. Mazar had noticed that the Bible described David going down, or descending, from his residence to the fortress (2 Sam. 5:17). She reasoned that David would have built his palace north of this fortress and outside the northern city wall, given that he was planning to expand the city. Her excavations in this area unearthed what she called the Large Stone Structure, a massive building complex which she describes as “the product of inspiration, imagination and considerable economic investment.” 8 Mazar was digging near where Kathleen Kenyon had earlier discovered a stone decoration that would have adorned the top of a pillar, called a proto-Aeolic capital, one of the most beautiful and intricate ones ever discovered in Israel. On the basis of the pottery found beneath the Large Stone Structure, she dated the first phase of its construction to the beginning of the Iron Age IIa, likely around the middle of the tenth century BC, precisely the time the Bible describes King David ruling over the United Kingdom of Israel. The discovery of the biggest, and most beautiful building in the northern part of the old city which dates to the time of David has led many to believe Mazar has uncovered the remains of King David’s palace. Of course, many critics who believe the biblical accounts of King David to be legendary, have been quick to criticize Mazar’s work and her use of Scripture as a reliable ancient text.

The Great Harris Papyrus

At forty meters long, the Great Harris Papyrus is the largest papyrus in existence today. It is a propagandistic document written during the time of Rameses III, Setnakhte&rsquos son, and a very powerful pharaoh in his own right. The papyrus tells of Setnakhte&rsquos establishment of a new dynasty at a time when Egypt was in a bad state (398&ndash399):

The state of Egypt only gets worse, and eventually an unnamed Levantine man takes power:

This group, under the aegis of a man describe as the Irsu (the self-made man), [15] acts with contempt toward the Egyptian gods:

Into this void stepped Setnakhte, who is described as the son of the gods, to right the wrongs of Egypt and reestablish the worship of the Egyptian gods:

If we combine what is written in these two Egyptian sources, the first of which was literally composed the year after the events allegedly occurred, and factor in what else we know about this period, we can offer a sketch of what happened at the end of the nineteenth dynasty and the beginning of the twentieth dynasty.

This is the upper part of the stele that is approximately 7' 4" tall. The laws, written in cuneiform, are inscribed on the lower part of the monument.

Hammurabi, King of Babylon reunited Mesopotamia and instituted the Code of Hammurabi, a comprehensive set of laws addressing nearly all aspects of both civil and criminal offenses.

Hammurabi is portrayed receiving the laws directly from Shamash the sun god. (a parallel to Moses can be made here). Shamash is the dominate figure&mdashhe is seated on his throne, wears a crown composed of four pairs of horns, holds a ring and staff, and has flames issuing from his shoulders. Although Hammurabi is subservient to the god he still makes a powerful authority statement by addressing the god directly. Even though he has his hand raised in reverence he shows that he has a personal relationship with the gods while mere mortals do not.

History reveals fascinating details about Quetzalcoatl: The White ‘Alien’ God

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Olmec, La Venta Stele 19. The Earliest Known Representation
Of A Feathered Serpent In Mesoamerica.

Who was Quetzalcoatl? If he truly was an ancient Aztec/Maya God, why did ancient civilizations of the Americas describe him having white skin, a wide forehead and graying red beard and big blue eyes? Furthermore, we ask how did the ‘feathered serpent, aka Quetzalcoatl’ reach the distant empire of the Aztecs? Where did he come from? And why is it that he is persistently associated, in native Mexican folklore with the planet Venus?

Have you ever wondered about who or what Quetzalcoatl really was? Why is there a myth of a plumed serpent and the story of a ‘white man that reincarnates’ and stories of his presence anywhere you go from North America to Argentina?

Although many see him as just another Native American God, the truth behind Quetzalcoatl’s is extensive, complex and fascinating.

Written down in ancient texts, and passed down from generation to generation is the description of this man-myth.

Apparently, Quetzalcoatl had white skin, a wide forehead and graying red beard and big blue eyes. This doesn’t really resemble people inhabiting modern-day Mexico.

In addition to all of the above, it is sad that Quetzalcoatl was unusually high.

Among the different descriptions we have learned that he was covered by a wide white robe adorned on the chest with a cross of intense red color, reminiscent of the cross that the Templars used.

These and other equally unusual findings, collected over the years have led researchers to believe in the possibility that Quetzalcoatl was perhaps a man of European origin who came forward several centuries before the arrival of the Spanish colonizers to the New World.

Around 1517 Francisco Fernandez de Cordoba set foot on the Peninsula of Yucatan and when the Spanish heard for the first time news about Quetzalcoatl in the Maya version of Kukulcan. The stories left them perplexed as the natives knew and worshiped the cross and also had similar notions to baptism, confession, communion, the great flood, the virgin, etc.

Pedro Ruiz Ptolemy a sixteenth-century alchemist and necromancer firmly believed that Quetzalcoatl, the priest with the cross was actually a leading member of the Order of the Templars who arrived in America fleeing persecution from the Templars.

What seems beyond doubt is that during the time that Quetzalcoatl remained among the Aztecs, before going into exile apparently, among the Maya, the WHITE GOD changed the culture of the ancient Aztecs drastically. Quetzalcoatl suppressed human sacrifice which was very common and extremely practiced by the Ancient Aztecs and directed the Aztecs towards ‘spirituality’ and constant exercise of religious duties.

History, myth, and tradition did the rest, establishing Quetzalcoatl as one of the main deities of the New World.

The great Quetzalcoatl would since be remembered as the ruler and exemplary politician, civilizing hero, inventor of the calendar, discoverer of corn, master farmer, inventor of the art of casting metals, carver of precious stones, judge, lawyer, king of the Toltecs and a God who managed to unify the new world.

But have you ever wondered about how Quetzalcoatl got to the Americas –since obviously, given the above descriptions he wasn’t native to the American Continent?

How did the ‘feathered serpent’ reach the distant empire of the Aztecs? Where did he come from? And why is it that he is persistently associated, in native Mexican folklore with the planet Venus?

If you keep an open mind, you will see that there are possibilities equally provocative which could explain the curious descriptions behind Quetzalcoatl.

Interestingly, throughout the years, researchers have uncovered numerous artifacts which offer further details about this mysterious God. In the “Temple of the Inscriptions” in Mexico City, experts discovered a tombstone adorned with a strange engraving: depicting what appears to be a man ‘piloting a spaceship’.

Is it possible that this representation corresponds to Quetzalcoatl? After all, it is said that the feathered serpent left in smoke and fire and promised to return one day.

Interestingly, if we take a look at the Codex Telleriano-Remensis we will find descriptions of what seem to be flights of a spacecraft that performs cruises and landings to the astonishment and terror of the natives…:

“…Every evening, and for several nights, a great clarity appears coming from the horizon, rising towards the heavens, having the shape of a pyramid in flames, it greatly impressed the king of Texcoco so much that he decided to end all wars…”

We find more information bout Quetzalcoatl (who had different names) if we look at the ancient Toltecs.

When Kate-Zahl (Toltec name of Quetzalcoatl) left the Toltecs and sailed away to the East, he made a prophecy about the destiny of the sacred city of Tula (now known as Teotihuacan) through 2 millennia:

The Toltecs would be conquered first by the Sacrificers of Men (the Aztecs), then by white-skinned, bearded men of the East carrying fatal “thunder-rods” – the Spaniards and their guns:

“Further off there is another invasion. In ships many bearded men are coming from across the Sunrise Ocean… I see these men taking the Broad Land… They do not respect our trees of cedar. They are but hungry, unenlightened children…

“Would that I could speak to these bearded farmers. I have tried. They do not hear me. They go on their way like spoiled children…

“Stand with me in the Year of Te-Tac-patl. Look across the Sunrise Ocean. Three ships come like great birds flying. They land. Out come men in metal garments, carrying rods which speak with thunder and kill at a distance. These men are bearded and pale of feature.

“They come ashore, and I see them kneeling. Above them, I see a Great Cross standing. That is well. If these men are true to the symbol they carry, you need have no fear of them, for no one who is true to that symbol will ever carry it into battle.

“Therefore hold aloft your Great Cross (T), and go forth to meet them. They cannot fail to know that symbol, and would not fire their rods upon it, nor upon those who stand in its shadow. Well they know that what is done to my people is done also to me.

“When the years have come to their full binding, the metal-tipped boots of the strangers will be heard in all the bloody temples. Then throughout the Broad Land has begun the Third Cycle. As yet, I cannot see beyond it.

“Once I had great hope for these people, for I saw them kneel and kiss the sweet earth, and I saw the shadow of the Great Cross which they carried with them. Now I must warn you against them.

“Carry your great books into the jungles. Place your histories deeply in caverns where none of these men can find them. Nor do you bring them back to the sunlight until the War-Cycle is over. For these bearded strangers are the children of War. They speak my precepts, but their ears do not listen. They have, but one love, and that is for weapons. Ever more horrible are these weapons until they reach for the one which is ultimate. Should they use that, there will be no forgiveness in that vale where there is no turning. Using such a weapon to make man over, is reaching into the heavens for the Godhead. These things are not for man’s decision, nor should man presume to think for all things, and thus mock the Almighty. Woe to those who do not listen! There are lamps beyond that which you are burning roads beyond this which you are treading worlds beyond the one you are seeing. Be humble before the might of the Great Hand which guides the stars within their places. There are many lodges within my Father’s Kingdom for it is vaster than time, and more eternal.

“Keep hidden your books, my children, all during the Cycle of Warring Strangers. The day will come when they will be precious.

“For five full Cycles of the Dawn Star, the rule of the Warring Strangers will go on to greater and greater destruction. Hearken well to all I have taught you. Do not return to the Sacrificers. Their path leads to the last Destruction. Know that the end will come in five full cycles, for five, the difference between the Earth’s number and that of the Gleaming Dawn Star is the number of these children of War. As a sign to you that the end is nearing, my Father’s Temple will be uncovered. Remember this in the days which are coming.”

“In time, white men will come out of the eastern sea in great canoes with white wings like a big bird. The white men will be like a bird with two different kinds of feet. One foot will be that of a dove [Christianity], the other of an eagle [predator]. A few hundred years after the arrival of the first white men, other white men would arrive with both feet as a dove.”

So many ancient texts, and so many details and yet we are unable to answer the simplest question: Who was Quetzalcoatl?

Babylonia, – the ancient state based in central-southern Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq) – it is believed, became a major power during and immediately after the reign of Hammurabi (c. 1810 BC – 1750 BC), the sixth king of the First Babylonian Dynasty. The ruler is most famous for enacting the Code of Hammurabi – one of the oldest surviving legal records in history.

The code consists of 282 laws inscribed on a tall black-basalt steele that was discovered by the Swiss Egyptologist Gustave Jéquier (1868-1946) in 1901 at the ancient site of Susa in modern-day Iran and first translated by Jean-Vincent Scheil (1858-1940), a French Dominican priest and Assyriologist in 1902. The steele is currently displayed in the Louvre in Paris with replicas in America and elsewhere in Europe.

The code consists of 282 laws inscribed on a tall black-basalt steele that was discovered by the Swiss Egyptologist Gustave Jéquier (1868-1946) in 1901 at the ancient site of Susa in modern-day Iran and first translated by Jean-Vincent Scheil (1858-1940), a French Dominican priest and Assyriologist in 1902. The steele is currently displayed in the Louvre in Paris with replicas in America and elsewhere in Europe.

Babylonia at the time of Hammurabi by User “MapMaster”, GDFL, Wikipedia The Stele of Hammurabi from top to bottom in the Louvre, Paris by User “Mbzt”, CC BY 3.0, Wikipedia

At the top of the steele stands Hammurabi before a seated Shamash (Mesopotamian solar deity), raising his hand in deference. The god extends to him a rod and a ring – symbols of authority. The Code of Hammurabi, write the American scholars William J. Duiker and Jackson J. Spielvogel:

reveals a society with a system of strict justice. Penalties for criminal offences were severe and varied according to the social class of the victim. A crime against a member of the upper class (a noble) by a member of the lower class (a commoner) was punished more severely than the same offense against a member of the lower class. Moreover, the principle of “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” was fundamental to this system of justice. This meant that punishments should fit the crime…

The largest category of laws in the Code of Hammurabi focused on marriage and family. Parents arranged marriages for their children. After marriage, the parties involved signed a marriage contract without it, no one considered legally married. While the husband provided a bridal payment to the bride’s parents, the woman’s parents were responsible for a dowry to the new husband.

As in many patriarchal societies, women possessed far fewer privileges and rights in the married relationship than men. A woman’s place was in the home, and failure to fulfil her expected duties was grounds for divorce.

Close-up of the stele showing the cuneiform script of the Akkadian language by User “Gabriele Barni”, CC BY 2.0, Flickr

Here is a short video from Smarthistory on the stele.

1. If any one ensnare another, putting a ban upon him, but he can not prove it, then he that ensnared him shall be put to death.

2. If any one bring an accusation against a man, and the accused go to the river and leap into the river, if he sink in the river his accuser shall take possession of his house. But if the river prove that the accused is not guilty, and he escape unhurt, then he who had brought the accusation shall be put to death, while he who leaped into the river shall take possession of the house that had belonged to his accuser.

3. If any one bring an accusation of any crime before the elders, and does not prove what he has charged, he shall, if it be a capital offense charged, be put to death.

4. If he satisfy the elders to impose a fine of grain or money, he shall receive the fine that the action produces.

5. If a judge try a case, reach a decision, and present his judgment in writing if later error shall appear in his decision, and it be through his own fault, then he shall pay twelve times the fine set by him in the case, and he shall be publicly removed from the judge’s bench, and never again shall he sit there to render judgement.

278. If any one buy a male or female slave, and before a month has elapsed the benu-disease be developed, he shall return the slave to the seller, and receive the money which he had paid.

279. If any one buy a male or female slave, and a third party claim it, the seller is liable for the claim.

280. If while in a foreign country a man buy a male or female slave belonging to another of his own country if when he return home the owner of the male or female slave recognize it: if the male or female slave be a native of the country, he shall give them back without any money.

281. If they are from another country, the buyer shall declare the amount of money paid therefor to the merchant, and keep the male or female slave.

282. If a slave say to his master: “You are not my master,” if they convict him his master shall cut off his ear.

You can read the entire code in English on this webpage hosted by the Yale Law School.

Here is another resource from Yale University (if you have the time and are interested) – a lecture (part of a series) in which Professor Christine Hayes discusses the relationship between the Code of Hammurabi and Old Testament law in the Bible. The video was recorded in Fall 2006.

Watch the video: Attic Inscriptions in the Ashmolean: Grave stele of Philodemos and Lysimache (January 2023).

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