Hammurabi's Law Code

Some of the laws were brutal, others progressive. Members of the upper class often received harsher punishments than commoners, and women had some important rights.

Most of the nearly 300 laws written on the pillar are about property rights of landowners, slavemasters, merchants, and builders. Here are some of the more unusual laws that seem foreign to a modern society:

  • If any one finds runaway male or female slaves in the open country and bring them to their masters, the master of the slaves shall pay him two shekels of silver.
  • If any one is committing a robbery and is caught, then he shall be put to death.
  • If a female tavern-keeper does not accept corn according to gross weight in payment of a drink, but takes money, and the price of the drink is less than that of the corn, she shall be convicted and thrown into the water.
  • If a son of a lover say to his adoptive father or mother: "You are not my father, or my mother," his tongue shall be cut off.
  • If a son strike his father, his hands shall be cut off.
  • If a man knock out the teeth of his equal, his teeth shall be knocked out.
  • If a man strike a free-born woman so that she loses her unborn child, he shall pay ten shekels for her loss.
  • If a barber, without the knowledge of his master, cut the sign of a slave on a slave not to be sold, the hands of this barber shall be cut off.
  • If a slave says to his master: "You are not my master," if they convict him his master shall cut off his ear.

Source: Hammurabi's Law Code
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