LAWS
   The Mesopotamian justice system relied primarily on customary law that was upheld by the assembly of elders or town official or courts. Judges could be chosen from the local community or be appointed by the king. Affected parties represented their own case and brought witnesses as appropriate. Proceedings, or least the verdicts, were written down, and numerous tablets have been preserved from most historical periods. In the absence of witnesses, the accused could be referred to an ordeal, such as being thrown into a river or canal. The person’s innocence was proved when the “river refused” the culprit. Defendants and plaintiffs were made to swear an oath on the divine emblems, such as the sun disk, which represented the god of justice, Shamash.
   As kings were seen as the upholders of law and order, they often issued legal reforms, debt releases, and decrees that were recorded in writing and are often referred to as law codes, although there is no evidence that courts ever referred to such edicts. The earliest known royal edict is by the Sumerian ruler Uruinimgina of Lagash (c. 2351–2342), who abolished a number of malpractices such as officials overcharging for funeral services. Then follows the Code of Ur-Nammu (c. 2100), of Lipit-Ishtar, of Eshnunna, and of Hammurabi, all from the early Old Babylonian period. They are all introduced by the clause “if and happens,” followed by the verdict.
   The Code of Hammurabi is the longest extant collection of laws. It was published toward the end of his reign and represents the first known effort to produce a coherent set of abstract legal precepts for the whole country, incorporating diverse local practices and traditional law. There are several main sections (family law, including subsections on adultery, incest, divorce, and inheritance; property law and restitution; loan and hire agreements; and setting standards on charges and wages). It differentiates fines and punishments according to a person’s legal status: free, slave, and a category in between called mushkenum (see SOCIETY). In contrast to earlier legal practices, Hammurabi’s code favors the so-called talionic principle (“an eye for an eye”) rather than monetary fines, which may express a preference for tribal customary practice.
   The Middle Assyrian laws from the 12th century B.C., regulate, among other matters, the behavior of women and palace staff. There is only a fragmentary code from the Neo-Babylonian period.

Historical Dictionary of Mesopotamia. . 2012.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Laws — ist der Name folgender Personen: Benjamin Glover Laws (1861–1931), englischer Schachkomponist Brian Laws (* 1961), englischer Fußballspieler und trainer David Laws (* 1965), britischer Politiker Donald Laws, US amerikanischer Eiskunstläufer und… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Laws — n. the first five books of the Old Testament, also called {The Law} and {Torah}. Syn: Pentateuch, Law of Moses, Torah. [WordNet 1.5] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • laws — index code, legislation (enactments) Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • Laws — This apparently simple surname is in fact one of great complexity. It is of Olde English or Norse Viking pre 8th Century origins, and was originally considered to be habitational for one who lived or perhaps worked at a hlaw , a burial ground, or …   Surnames reference

  • laws — lɔː n. rule enacted by a community or country; body of rules by which order and justice is maintained; study of laws, jurisprudence; legal profession; custom, principle, convention v. litigate; sue, prosecute …   English contemporary dictionary

  • Laws — /lɔz/ (say lawz) noun John (Richard John Sinclair Laws), born 1935, Australian radio commentator, journalist and television host …   Australian English dictionary

  • laws — dėsniai statusas T sritis automatika atitikmenys: angl. laws vok. Gesetze, n rus. законы, m pranc. lois, f …   Automatikos terminų žodynas

  • laws — taisyklės statusas T sritis automatika atitikmenys: angl. laws; rules vok. Regeln, f rus. правила, n pranc. règlement, m; règles, f …   Automatikos terminų žodynas

  • laws — Rules promulgated by government as a means to an ordered society. Strictly speaking, session laws or statutes and not decisions of court; though in common usage refers to both legislative and court made law, as well as to administrative rules,… …   Black's law dictionary

  • laws — Rules promulgated by government as a means to an ordered society. Strictly speaking, session laws or statutes and not decisions of court; though in common usage refers to both legislative and court made law, as well as to administrative rules,… …   Black's law dictionary

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”