Tuesday, April 21, 2009

An Old Babylonian Lawsuit

In an earlier post I mentioned that an adopted child in the Old Babylonian Period had the same rights, under most circumstances, as a biological child. A document relating to a lawsuit over a garden confirms this. The translation below is from Huehnergard, John, Key to a Grammar of Akkadian. Harvard Semitic Studies, vol. 46. 1997.

“Mar-Amurrim purchased the orchard of Sin-Magir for silver. Anum-bani brought suit for that orchard according to the royal decree. When they went to the judges, the judges sent them to the gate of Ninmar, and Anum-bani said to the judges of the gate of Ninmar, in the gate of Ninmar, as follows: ‘I am the son of Sin-magir; he adopted me; my sealed document was not broken (i.e., annulled).’ Thus he said to them, and so they confirmed the orchard and estate to Anum-bani. Sin-muballit again laid claim against Anum-bani for the orchard; they went to the judges, and when the judges sent them to the city and the witnesses, the previous witnesses of Mar-Amurrim said, ‘In the gate of Ninmar Anum-bani swore, “I am the son,” and so they confirmed the field and estate to Anum-bani. Sin-Muballit may not bring suit again. He swore by the life of Samas, Marduk and King Hammurapi.”

A man named Sin-Magir sold an orchard to Mar-Amurrim. Sin-magir’s adopted son brought suit claiming that the field should be his since he was Sin-magir’s adopted son and his adoption had not been annulled. Apparently the owner of the field could not sell it since he had an adopted son who could claim it.

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