The principal (and only considerable) source of the Code of Hammurabi is the stela discovered at Susa in 1901 by the French Orientalist Jean-Vincent Scheil and now preserved in the Louvre in Paris.
|The Code of
Hammurabi is a collection of
Babylonian customary laws, written down during the reign of Hammurabi (1792-1750 BC) of the 1st dynasty
of Babylon. It consists of customary norms that were collected toward the end of his
reign and inscribed on a diorite stela set up in Babylon's temple of
Marduk, the god of Babylonia. The 282 chapters include economic provisions (prices, tariffs, trade, and commerce), family law (marriage
and divorce), as well as criminal law (assault, theft) and civil law (slavery,
debt). Penalties varied according to the status of the offenders and the circumstances of
The background of the code is a body of Sumerian customary law under which civilized communities had lived for many centuries. The existing text is in the Akkadian (Semitic) language; but, even though no Sumerian version is known to survive, the code was meant to be applied to a wider realm than any single country and to integrate Semitic and Sumerian traditions and peoples. It is typical of early customary compilations of law in its use of the ordeal, and the its use of the lex talionis (i.e., an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth).