Artifact: Stone stele
Provenience: Susa, modern Shush
Period: Late Old Babylonian Period (ca 1800-1595 BC)
Current location: Louvre Museum, Paris
Text genre, language: Royal inscription, legal; Akkadian
Description: The stela of Hammurabi, now housed in the Louvre Museum, was found in Susa, where it was carried off by Šutruk-Nuḫḫunte after the sack of Babylon in 1155. It was composed much earlier during the last part of the reign of the King Hammurabi (1792-1750). The basalt stela records 282 legal provisions that deal with a range of cases, including those that involve economic transactions, loans, robbery and theft, negligence, marriage, and inheritance, among others. The overwhelming majority of the law provisions are expressed using the casuistic formula, where the protasis presents the circumstances of a legal case, and the apodosis presents the appropriate legal response to the case. The text of the laws are set within a larger prologue and epilogue, which are written in the hymnic-epic dialect and which reveal key aspects of kingship, particularly the king's commitment to justice. The top portion of the stela depicts King Hammurabi receiving the laws from Šamaš, the god of justice, along with a ring and a rod, two symbols of law and justice. (Moudhy al-Rashid, University of Oxford)
Lineart: Bergmann, E. 1953: Codex Hammurabi: textus primigenius (Rome: Scripta Pontificii Instituti Biblici 51). See also Borger, R. 2006: Babylonische-Assyrische Lesestücke, vol 2 (Rome: Editrice Pontificio Instituto Biblico), 286-314.
Edition(s): Roth, M. T. 1997: 'Laws of Hammurabi (LH) (ca. 1750 B.C.E., Babylon)', Law Collections from Mesopotamia and Asia Minor, 2nd ed. (SBL Writings from the Ancient World 6 / Atlanta: Scholars Press), 71-142.
Bibliography: Charpin, D. 2003: Hammurabi de Babylone (Paris: Presses universitaires de France); Roth, M. T. 1997: Law Collections from Mesopotamia and Asia Minor, 2nd ed. (SBL Writings from the Ancient World 6 / Atlanta: Scholars Press); Van De Mieroop, M. 2004: King Hammurabi of Babylon: A biography (Oxford: Blackwell); Westbrook, R., ed. 2003: A History of Ancient Near Eastern Law (Leiden: Brill).