The Laws of Ur-Nammu
Artifact: Clay cylinder
Period: Ur III (ca. 2100-2000 BC)
Current location: Schøyen Collection, Oslo (MS 2064)
Text genre, language: Royal inscription, law code; Sumerian
Description: The Laws of Ur-Nammu is a Sumerian law collection that dates to the end of the third millennium BCE (c. 2100 BCE) and are named for one of the rulers of Ur, Ur-Nammu (r. 2112-2095) to whom the laws are attributed by modern scholarship. The other possible ruler to whom the laws may be attributed is his son and successor Šulgi (r. 2094-2047), but the beginning of the prologue, where the name of the royal sponsor would appear, is not well-preserved (Roth 1997: 13). The laws are not complete, and only the prologue and forty legal provisions from the body of the laws have survived. The sources for the laws come from Nippu, Ur, and possibly Sippar, though the latter may also come from Nippur. As with the Babylonian law collections, each provision begins with an if-clause, headed by the Sumerian tukum-bi "if", and the provisions deal with a variety of legal issues, including homicide, sexual offences, assault, false accusations, marriage, and property.
Edition(s): Civil, Miguel, CUSAS 17 (2011) 107; Wilcke, Claus 2002: 'Der Kodex Urnamma (CU): Versuch einer Rekonstruktion', in Abusch, T., Riches Hidden in Secret Places: Ancient Near Eastern studies in memory of Thorkild Jacobsen, 291-333; Roth, M. T. 1997: 'Laws of Ur-Nammu (LU) (ca. 2100 B.C.E., Ur)', Law Collections from Mesopotamia and Asia Minor, 2nd ed. (SBL Writings from the Ancient World 6 / Atlanta: Scholars Press), 13-22; Finkelstein, J. J. 1968-69: 'The Laws of Ur-Nammu', JCS 22:3/4, 66-82
Bibliography: Kramer, N. 1983: 'The Ur-Nammu Law Code: Who Was Its Author', Or 52, 453-456. Kramer N. and A. Finkelstein 1953: 'Ur Nammu Law Code', Or 23, 40-51. Wilcke, Claus 2002: 'Der Kodex Urnamma (CU): Versuch einer Rekonstruktion', in Abusch, T., Riches Hidden in Secret Places: Ancient Near Eastern studies in memory of Thorkild Jacobsen, 291-333.