(1810 BC - 1750 BC)

Babylonian King and Lawmaker

The Life of Hammurabi

Hammurabi was the sixth king of Babylonia reigning from 1792 BC until his death. The name means "The Kinsman is a Healer" in Akkadian.

The begiining of Hammurabi's reign was peaceful. In the 1760s BC, Babylonia was at war with Elam, a Dravidian kingdom. The kingdom then expanded from Persia to the Mediterranean Sea. The following period was a highpoint of Babylonian literature and culture. Temples, public buildings and irrigation were improved during his rule.

Hammurabi Code
Part of a stele featuring the laws of Hammurabi

Hammurabi is famous for the legal system he developed around 1780 BC. His 282 laws have been used by many later civilisations including the Hebrews and the Romans. The laws were written on steles and placed around the kingdom so that all citizens could read them.

The laws address business and family relations, the hiring of labour, property, personal injuries and debt. Its most famours law can be summarised as “an eye for an eye”. Much of the legal code is drawn from earlier Sumerian and Akkadian laws.

Examples of these laws are shown below:

After Hammurabi's death a legend grew that he has climbed a mountain and received the laws from the Sun God. Similar stories were later told about the Hebrew prophet, Moses.

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Inventions from the period that includes Babylonia.

Words from the Akkadian language of the Babylonian empire of Mesopotamia are still used in English today.

External Hammurabi Links

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Hammurabi Code
The law code of hammurabi.