King Hammurabi of Babylon united Mesopotamia under his empire, reigning from approximately 1792 to 1750 B.C. He spent the first portion of his reign focused on conquering the surrounding areas, and then afterwards, he had turned to creating proper law and order throughout his kingdom, creating the Code to create peace, bring the different classes of society closer to equality, and better the conditions of his people.


The actual Code is a series of 282 rules (along with a preface and epilogue) that each govern a very specific situation. In examining these laws, one can see how, while there were some levels in how different categories of people were treated, it acknowledged that every person, aristocrat to slave, had certain rights and were treated as such. Hammurabi also was one of the first rulers to have the use of a fair and just trial (albeit with some influence from their deities through statues and the use of rivers and the like). The punishments for crimes were harsh, equaling the crime committed.


The Code of Hammurabi is the earliest known legal code, including an early system of trial, as noted in the Law section. It led to the current theory of Law, as well as the basis for the Early Jewish and Christian Law, commonly abbreviated as an “Eye for an Eye, a Tooth for a Tooth.” The Code also pioneered the use of “Innocent until proven Guilty.”


King, L. W., and Charles H. Horne. "The Code of Hammurabi Index." Internet Sacred Text Archive Home. Web. 20 Jan. 2012. <http://www.sacred-texts.com/ane/ham/index.htm>.

Roaf, Michael. Charismatic Kings. New York, 1990. 96-103. Print.

Stearns, Peter N., Michael Adas, Stuart B. Schwartz, and Marc J. Gilbert. World Civilizations the Global Experience. New York: Pearson Longman, 2003. Print.