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Ancient Near Eastern Empires
Hammurabi (1792-1750 BC)
What conclusions can you draw about government in Mesopotamia from this
source? Who makes law? Where does the ruler get his authority? What problems
could rulers expect to face as they extended their control over larger and larger
areas? Would they have to delegate authority to others? How could such a problem
explain this code?
Can you explain why Hammurabi lists all the cities and gods he has benefitted? Was
Mesopotamia traditionally a politically unified region?
Does the source suggest whether Mesopotamians expected a stable society? How
might your answer be explained by Mesopotamia's political history?
What conclusions can you draw about family life (e.g., relations among husbands,
wives, parents, and children) in this society? About slaves and their owners? Whose
sexual relations come in for greater regulation, men's or women's? Can you account
for your answer?
Can you draw conclusions about the region's economy from this source? What
kinds of activities are of concern?
• Sumerians—dynastic period (2900-2270 BC; king
Gilgamesh 26th c. B.C.)
• Akkadians—Sargon (ca. 2334–2218 BC )
• Guteans (ca. 2140–2050 BC ; destroyed Akkad)
• “Sumerian Renaissance” (ca. 2047–1940 BC )
• Amorites (2004 invasion)
• Babylonian ascendency under Hammurabi (fl. 17281686 BC)