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Hammurabi’s Code: What Does It Tell Us About Old Babylonia? Code of Hammurabi Stele: inscribed, upright stones Made of basalt, a hard, black volcanic rock The text is written in cuneiform script and the Akkadian language Who made the stele? • King Hammurabi, who ruled from 1792-1750 BC had his laws inscribed on a stone steles and placed them in various temples throughout his empire. What was the purpose of the stele? • The purpose of this stele was to display King Hammurabi’s right to rule, as well as to allow the people of different cities to come to the stele to pray to their god for legal assistance. What was the purpose of the stele? As ancient communities grew larger, they needed a stronger central government to complete and take care of necessary public projects -such as the canals that enabled Babylon to grow surplus foods- and to maintain law and order for keeping life in cities running smoothly. We know from records on clay tablets that Babylonia had an organized justice system. Such a system requires some standardization of the law as well as an educated class to serve as judges and court recorders. What is happening at in the scene at the top? The scene at the top shows King Hammurabi standing before the sun god Shamash, the god of justice. Shamash is seated on a throne. Shamash gives Hammurabi the rod and ring, symbols of a king and divine justice. In Mesopotamia they believed laws came from the gods. The text is divided into three parts 1. a historical story about King Hammurabi and his role as "protector of the weak and oppressed," and the formation of his empire and achievements 2. a poetic story summing up his legal work 3. laws and legal decisions governing daily life in the kingdom of Babylon. The legal part of the text uses everyday language and is here simplified, because the king wanted it to be understood by all.