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The Hammurabi Code Essay

A civilization can be defined as “The stage of human social development and organization that is considered most advanced”. Babylon was an important step in the development of human societies. Many of Babylon’s inventions continue to influence lifeways today. Babylon developed the world’s first written legal code and caused profound changes and advancements in astronomy and math. Through Babylon’s many inventions and superior control over its people it gained power and wealth as a city, and as a result grew more advanced.

Babylon can be considered a civilization that is advanced and organized because of its great progress in justice systems, social hierarchy and improvements in women’s lives living in ancient Babylon. Babylon’s justice system was dictated by the laws found in Hammurabi’s code of laws. This code is “the earliest-known example of a ruler proclaiming publicly to his people an entire body of laws,” and was the first attempt to codify a civilization.

This shows that Hammurabi, and Babylon as a whole, was thinking critically about justice systems and attempting to improve the system in order to create better and more specific laws to therefore ensure Babylon advances as a civilization. Further proving that Babylon had the desire to ensure their civilization reached its maximum potential and achieved great advancement, something that must be achieved in order for a city to be qualified as a civilization. Previously, a set of laws were generally known to civilians but were never recorded or displayed prominently.

This could cause misinterpretations and misunderstandings and the law could be challenged with less difficulty, as there was no way of proving the law other than by verbal communication. Hammurabi’s code was “carved upon a black stone monument” and could be seen from a distance. Writing and education now became more systematic and important in a civilizations, proving the advancements that occurred because of Babylon. When creating the code, Hammurabi clearly understood the importance of making the law widely known and understood and ensured the monument was in public view.

The code of laws ensured organization of a civilization and was based on “an eye for an eye” principals that would be adapted by the Hebrews, proving the importance of Babylon’s ideas and principals as well as its advancements that would continue to be used after the end of the empire. Honor and duty were main aspects of many of Hammurabi’s laws and therefore a main theme of the city of Babylon. For example, if a substitute were to be hired by an officer or soldier that was sent to fight and sends the substitute instead, the officer or soldier would be put to death and the substitute would be given his house.

This specific set of laws ensured prime control over its people and as a result Babylon gained power and wealth. The importance of these laws were reinforced through a stone monument that displayed Hammurabi receiving laws from the god Shamash and reveals the importance of Hammurabi to Babylon and his authority to rule over the people of Babylon. Art was displayed prominently in Babylon, ensuring its people understood the importance of abiding by the laws in order to please the gods and ensure organization throughout the civilization.

Stone monuments would have been placed in a well traveled and populated setting where people would see the artwork often and therefore remember the artwork and abide by the laws. The fact that the monument was placed in a populated area also proves that Hammurabi wanted his people to remember it and therefore understand the importance of the laws. Babylon was advanced in the sense that they understood the importance of proving to its people how the laws came to be in order to prevent confusion over the authority of its rulers to once again ensure organization of the civilization.

The social hierarchy of Babylon was well developed and strongly supported by Hammurabi’s code. Social hierarchy helped ensure organization and order within the civilization of Babylon. The population of Babylon consisted on three classes: “the amelu, the muskinu and the ardu” and each class had its own privileges and role in society. The amelu consisted of the King and court, higher officials, professionals and craftsmen. The muskinu consisted of a free man who was landless.

Finally, the ardu consisted of slaves. This system was regulated by Hammurabi’s code of laws that distinctly laid out the expectations and consequences for each class therefore causing an advanced and intricate system for all people to follow. However, each class was not equal, for example if someone of a greater class hurts someone of a lower class, instead of receiving the same, they may pay a fine. Hammurabi’s code of laws ensured social order or consequence and held people accountable for their actions.

Now that the expectations for social order were clearly stated within Hammurabi’s code of laws, people could now move onto more important items for which to advance Babylon, further characterizing it as a civilization. Hammurabi’s code also reinforced social stratification and the organization of Babylon that further advanced the civilizations ways and separated itself from previous societies. The role of women in Babylon may have been small, however compared to the civilizations that came before it and would come throughout history, the role of women in Babylon was advanced for its time.

Women’s rights were now protected by the Hammurabi code, when previously any rights women had were not protected by a written code and could easily be challenged or put up for interpretation. Hammurabi’s code left no room for interpretation. Although the main role of married women living in ancient Babylon was to have children, especially boys to be heirs, they did enjoy rights granted by the Hammurabi code such as the right to divorce their husband, a revolutionary right at the time. During the Babylonian ivilization women were not completely independent from men and did rely on men for support, however they had full power to remove themselves independently from a bad relationship, if found blameless for the marriage failure. Women and men almost experienced equality during the Babylonian civilization, however this equality would prove to be short lived and by the end of the Babylonian empire and the rise of the Assyrians women had lost almost all of their rights. Women were no longer allowed to attend schools or hold positions of authority.

This loss of rights directly relates to the rise of Assyrian monotheism. As societies grew more complex, it can be argued that women’s roles in them grew less and less important for business and society affairs. Babylon was a great civilization that hosted many great innovation that are still used in today’s society. Many great advancements occurred, some of which continued on and was used in various other civilizations and some that ended. Babylon greatly influenced the development of complex human societies and hosted many great ideas and inventions.

Although some aspects of Babylon may seem to be less advanced than others, one must take into account the history of those aspects and what resulted from those aspects. Hammurabi’s code started written code that continues to be used today and the treatment of women was advanced for its time. Social hierarchy of Babylon was well developed and supported by Hammurabi’s code. Finally, ancient Babylon was a civilization of supreme power and wealth because of the many advancements it caused and ideas it started.

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