The Code of Hammurabi: The World's First Written Laws

TLDR The Code of Hammurabi, discovered in western Iran, is the world's first written set of laws. It covers a wide range of topics and includes laws that are similar to those found in the Bible's Book of Leviticus. The code introduced revolutionary concepts such as being innocent until proven guilty and laid the foundation for modern legal systems.

Timestamped Summary

00:00 The discovery of a large stone steely in western Iran led to the translation of Hammurabi's Code, the world's first written laws.
01:43 Hammurabi, king of the Babylonian Empire, conquered most of Mesopotamia and created a code of laws consisting of 282 laws regarding various infractions, crimes, and disputes.
02:46 The stele, a well-preserved black stone, depicts Hammurabi receiving laws from the god Shamash and was later taken by the king of Elam, Shutrakh Nahunte, who erased some of the original laws.
03:53 The Code of Hammurabi includes laws that follow the principle of "an eye for an eye," but the punishment varied depending on the social class of the victim.
05:01 The Code of Hammurabi includes laws that are similar to those in the Bible's Book of Leviticus, suggesting that some of the laws from Leviticus may have been adopted from Babylonian laws, and it covers a wide range of topics including commerce, divorce, rent, liability, medical malpractice, contracts, and receipts, with punishments that vary in severity but also surprisingly forward-thinking laws.
06:06 The concept of being innocent until proven guilty, which is still with us today, was revolutionary and the very first laws written down in the Code of Hammurabi.
07:16 The Code of Hammurabi's harsh perjury laws and restrictions on frivolous lawsuits were the first step in creating the legal system that has evolved into the extensive United States Code of Federal Regulations.
Categories: History Education

Browse more History