Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Law Code of Ur-Nammu (Part 2)

In many ways the law code of Ur-Nammu was much less "heavy handed" than the later code of Hammurabi. For instance, compare this law from each code and note the different punishments:

Hammurabi (Law 127):
If a man has pointed a finger at a priestess or another man's wife but does not prove her guilty, they shall beat that man in front of the judges. In addition they may half-shave his hair (shaving a man's hair is a public humiliation).

Ur-Nammu (Law 14):
If a man accuses the wife of a young man of promiscuity but the river ordeal clears her, the man who accused her shall weigh and deliver 20 shekels of silver.

Note the differing punishments for a false accusation. In Hammurabi's code physical punishment was meted out, while in Ur-Nammu's code the penalty was an (admittedly stiff) fine.

Again note the difference in punishments in the next two laws. In Hammurabi's code the punishment is physical, while the law code of Ur-Nammu calls for a fine.

Hamurabi (Law 197):
If he has broken another man's bone, they shall break one of his bones.

Ur-Nammu (Law 19):
If a man shatters the ... bone of another man with a club, he shall weigh and deliver 40 shekels of silver.

One last example:

Hammurabi (Law 200):
If a man has knocked out the tooth of a man who is his colleague, they shall knock out his tooth.

Ur-Nammu (Law 22):
If [a man knocks out another man's] tooth with [..., he shall] weigh and deliver [X shekels of silver].

It should be noted however, that Law 201 of Hammurabi's Code does call for a fine if a man knocks out the tooth of a social inferior.

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