What was Hammurabi's code
Who Was Hammurabi?
Hammurapi himself was - just like other conquerors of antiquity - but not too fine to take revenge himself. There were no rules whatsoever that forbade kings or other rulers from attacking each other - even if they had formed alliances or vowed to each other for eternal friendship.
Hammurapi, for example, turned against his longtime ally, the King of Mari, the ruler of a prosperous city on the upper reaches of the Euphrates. He not only destroyed his rival's palace, but also a temple dedicated to Šamaš. In doing so, he ignored an inscription cursing anyone who desecrated the shrine and asking the gods to slit the culprit's throat and destroy his descendants.
The Myths of the Bible: Babylon
Such curses were mostly fulfilled in conflict-ridden Mesopotamia. Hammurapi's dynasty only lasted a few generations before it fell. His Codex, on the other hand, has survived to this day - and even if it is no longer considered the oldest legal text of mankind, it is one of the earliest examples of a concept that has proven itself for thousands of years. Numerous rulers from antiquity to Napoleon Bonaparte had their own legal texts written down in order to unite empires whose citizens practiced a variety of traditions and had the most diverse views of justice. All of them should at least be united by common jurisdiction.
The article was originally published in English on NationalGeographic.com.
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