Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Law Code of Ur-Nammu

I mentioned in my last post that the law code of Ur-Nammu was somewhat different than the (later) law code of Hammurabi. The primary difference is in the punishments prescribed for similar offences in the two law codes. Over the next couple of posts I will try to highlight these differences by comparing laws from the two codes.

This is not to say that different punishments are always prescribed for the same crime. For instance, law one of the Ur-Nammu code reads, "If a man commits a homicide, they shall kill that man", while Law 153 of Hammurabi's code says, "If a woman has let her husband be killed because of another man, they shall stick that woman on a stake."

Law 1 of Hammurabi's code also states that if a man makes a false accusation of homicide, the accuser shall be executed.

So homicide was punishable by death in both codes, with Hammurabi's code also stipulating that false accusations of homicide were punishable by the death penalty.

Another example of similarly harsh punishments in both law codes would include law number six of Ur-Nammu's code and Hammurabi's law number 130, both of which call for the death penalty for a man who de-flowers the virgin bride of another man.

In the next post we shall look at some crimes where the punishment is very different in the two law codes.

Richardson, M. E. J., "Hammurabi's Laws", Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2000.

Roth, Martha, "Law Collections from Mesopotamia and Asia Minor", Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 1997.

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