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Evolution of law & society. From the ancient Mesopotamia
Author article
Vladymyr Marinich

1. General assumptions.

The following article is an attempt to survey and research the question of origin and followed by the evolution of some well-known legal norms and legal culture, from the moment of their origin in the ancient world to the present.

At the beginning, one should understand that in most cases, the rules of law have evolved in different parts of the world for the similar principles and mutually influenced each other, and were often linked.

Most likely, this was due to the domination of pagan religions in the world at the time.

The same natural phenomenon in different parts of the world was attributed with a divine form featuring similar abilities.

The religions of different nations influenced each other and formed similar traditions, culture and mentality. Examples of thus related cultures and religions of different peoples, are numerous, e.g. Sumerian - ancient Egyptian, Sumerian – Hattian - ancient Persian, the ancient Persian - Scythian, Minoan - ancient Greek, Hattian- ancient Greek, ancient Greek - Ancient Roman etc.

For a while people did not accept the only one god that every nation would endow certain characteristics that are inherent in a mentality of the people.

However, after the occurrence of the religions associated with only one god, the mutual exchange between the legal cultures of the nations of different religions is significantly limited.

As a consequence, it has identified the development of legal systems in different people for completely different legal principles (as the most striking example of this development: European and Muslim legal systems).

Also, a significant impact the law experienced as a result of the completion of the formation of the institute of the supreme power in the ancient world, when the existence and improvement of the law distanced from accepted practices, and developed on the basis of support of stability of activities of the authorities, which led to the emergence of micro and macro norm of law - that is, those rules of law that govern how certain specific sectors of human activity, and the general rules of human behavior, within the territory of the influence of the supreme power.

The evolution of the law took place in all areas, but particularly interesting were the development of the rule of law, which acquired a shape similar to the law, that is - looked like general rules of conduct for a particular people in a particular area, though not always set in writing.

At the same time, it is necessary to take into account the fact that there was a relativity factor in respect of such laws, because their use had always been associated with only certain groups of people within certain areas.

This factor clearly existed (perhaps here the term "officially" could be used), in the ancient world, the assignment of people to free citizens and slaves, the aristocracy and the common people, the land owners and landless, masters and dependent people.

This factor continues to exist in the modern period, as the rights and responsibilities of people depend on their financial possibilities.

However, today it does not have an official format since there is no formal distribution of people depending on social and public features of their status.

This factor is important to research the evolution of law, but due to the limited format of this work is presented by the author of the article only partially, in cases where the justification of certain assumptions without its use is impossible.

While studying the question, the author used the legal documents which, in his opinion most influenced the formation of legal culture of the world and were created during the life of the great world companies or in the period of the bright and strong leaders, or were created when there were grand events .

2. The origin of the institution of the supreme authority.

The societies of the ancient world can hardly be called the states in modern understanding.

In this regard, the author considers such societies through the prism of the supreme power, which existed in almost all the peoples of the ancient world, it was fixed by certain rules of law and had an impact on a certain territory.

At the beginning, it is necessary to imagine that the process of creation of the Institute of the supreme power, which in its turn could not exist apart from the public, provides for the ordered relationship between the authorities and the general population, both those living within limits controlled by this power, and those living abroad.

At the same time, the distribution of population according to this principle always provides for rules applied only to the population living within the influence of the supreme power.

In its turn, the mandatory implementation of such rules is one of the most important circumstances of existence of the supreme power, which in return has announced the provision of guarantees to the population, which was under its influence (e.g., protection from enemies, the distribution of property, religious rites, and the like).

One can say the development and strengthening of the supreme power was always accompanied by a formation of the rules of law, binding to all parties of these relationships.

In IV-I millennia BC, first in the Near East, then in Africa, North India, China, southeastern Asia arose the first in the world history institutes of the Supreme Power, which were formed after similar principles.

The ancient supreme authority in its finally ready type was formed not at once. Political progress began with a stage of formation polynomials - administrative associations of communities which only started to lose the patrimonial and primitive character.

The real design of the institutions of sovereignty occurred at the stage of centralization (very relative in terms of the ancient society).

At that time, the territory which had been under the influence of institutions such supreme authority grew in space and time (becoming more "buoyant").

There appeared full and autonomous bureaucratic systems, judicial and financial systems united by a common job were formed.

A persistent tradition of monarchy evolved as the first known in the history of common type of institution of the supreme power.

At some point of the extension of controlled territories the institute of supreme authority finally lost its historical ties with the communities and continued to develop subject to its own laws and the military challenges of the time.

At the same time, the institutions of the supreme power in ancient societies ( Sumer, Elam, Egypt, Babylon, India, China, etc.) emerged and strengthened by controlling suitable for primitive life and farming basins along the largest rivers: the Tigris and Euphrates, Nile, Indus and the Ganges, the Yellow River and alike.

The ability to develop relatively narrow areas along the rivers led to the high population density of ancient societies. It was truly a "civilization, of the great rivers."

Adherence to the large rivers and their water regime made particularly important the organizational-economic function of the institute of supreme authority in the life of the ancient people, including the regular organization of mass irrigation of public works, the history of which goes back to centuries and even millennia.

As a result of such historical development the formation of social relations depended on the possibilities by supreme authority to control the land.

So, in Mesopotamia, the earliest forms of organization of the institutions of sovereignty have been associated with cities and urban communities.

In this case, one must consider the contingent differences between urban and rural communities of the time, since the city citizens were also engaged in farming and enjoyed all the rights of community members. For this reason, the town and village in Akkadian had one name - "Ur".

At the head of the first Mesopotamian cities was the supreme ruler, who was called "ensi" ("the one who heads the race" or "the one who lays the temple") or "Lugal" ("a great man", "boss", "lord").

Lugal, may differed from the "ensi" by a greater military powers.

In the cities the convened public meetings and councils of elders were called. These public bodies were not only elected and in some cases dropped the rulers, but also determined the scope of their authority, giving more or less rights in the military and legislative spheres.

It was the public meetings that held the legislative, financial (the right to set prices, all kinds of taxes), the judicial function and the function of maintaining public order.

The ruler of the city was the head of public worship, was in charge of irrigation, Templar and other public building, led the troops and presided over the council of elders or the public gathering.

Those were the town and Templar civilization with all features of the urban life.

In the cities were faster to spread social links, the “energy of power" was strongly affirmed.

The bulk population was put dependent of the supreme power, which for its own purpose sought to keep and strengthen the social way of life.

This, in its turn, led to a very slow formation in the law the principles of individual legal freedom, which sustained the economic and vital independence of people.

Also, the formation of the law was affected by marks of a public struggle for the "perfect past" of ancestral times, the era of equality and justice.

In the beginning, shading the social contradictions within people, smoothing the confrontation of wealth and poverty of the common people and nobility, has become one of the most important political motives to strengthen institution of the supreme power.

This was the basis for formation of almost unlimited power of the ancient rulers.

Simultaneously there was a strong intertwining of the supreme power and religion, recognizing the sacred nature of the power of the rulers.

There comes a time when not only de jure slaves, but all the other people de facto were in the position of slaves in relation to the supreme power.

In such social and partly socio-psychological conditions, an important property for ancient societies was their excessive conservatism. Doubting their rulers, no ancient society had any doubts to the necessity and order of existence of the supreme power.

3. Formation of Sumerian society in a particular area.

As a result of archaeological research it became known that among the ancient societies one can distinguish some societies that were formed prior to others, and were mainly focused on the areas of big cities with large population density and sometimes, in the case of capturing a city by the other - on the middle territory between the cities.

These were societies of the Fertile Crescent, located in the Middle East, and the civilization of Ancient Egypt, in Africa.

In societies of the Fertile Crescent around 6500 BC, the greatest population density reached settlements in areas of the Levant, southern Anatolia and the Zagros Mountains.

At the same time, the population of most villages did not exceed a few hundred people and didn’t expand. The economy did not go beyond mere recreation and was based on the cultivation of crops and livestock.

The exception was a settlement, which for the first time, as we know, reached the size of the city in Çatalhöyük (now in Turkey), which emerged around 6700 BC.

This city is the largest of the known settlements in the Neolithic era.

Foreign trade, improved irrigation, vibrant tradition of sculpture and mural painting, a large number of ornate temples, weaving, copper metallurgy and pottery - all this tells for the existence of the city with a developed substructure. We can say that in the middle of the seventh millennium BC there existed the institute supreme authority, with a mandatory attribute in the form of legal rules that set out the relationship between the population of the city, helping to develop and defend the existing order in the city.

However, Çatalhöyük was ahead of its time. Local environment could not sustain long-term growth of the city and after about a thousand years, the place was abandoned. At the same time, it is impossible not to pay attention to long-term period of existence of this city which proves the presence of a well-developed legal culture of relations among its inhabitants.

Persistent growth of cities first happened in Mesopotamia around 6500 BC.  Several cultures appeared and were transformed on its territory in this period due to the development of land farming.

The first one was the Hassuna culture (in the period 6500 - 6000 BC) centered in the North East of Mesopotamia.

Around 6000 BC the Hassuna culture is getting displaced by the Halaf culture that has spread to the upper Mesopotamia from the Southern end of the Armenian highlands.

Halaf culture almost did not go beyond the dry farming areas, as opposed to the culture of Samarra, which began its development about 6000 BC in the south of Hassuna area.

The greatest achievement of this culture was the use of large-scale irrigation, including the channel (very similar to the initial development of the Egyptian state). This allowed the Samarra people settle in the semi-deserts of Mesopotamia.

The Ubaid culture was one of the most long-standing cultures of alluvial valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates in Lower Mesopotamia (began to develop about 5900 years BC), apparently separately from the more northern Samarra culture.

The Ubaid culture lasted probably for about 1500 years.

In the 5th century BC it spread to all of Mesopotamia, the foothills of the Zagros, and parts of Syria and North-eastern Arabia, including a modern Bahrain, and laid the foundations of the Sumerian civilization.

The population of Ubaid perhaps belonged to another more ancient folks – subAryans, the remains of which later lived in Syria, the basin of the Upper and Middle Tigris and near Susa, until the end of the 3rd millennium BC.

They settled in Lower Mesopotamia, almost not knowing rain, they lived first by fishing, hunting and herding, but the introduction of irrigation equipment from the north has changed the settlement model. Irrigation allowed mastering the enormous agricultural potential of the alluvial valleys, and the use of plow in the 5th millennium BC, provided a new production rise.

Intensive agriculture caused rapid population growth and the emergence of new agricultural settlements.

Some of them, like the Ubaid, the most famous of the settlements in the 5th millennium BC, turned into the towns.

Simple sanctuary that existed in the early Ubaid, already bears the features of later Mesopotamian temples: ornamented facade, a table for the sacrifice and the altar with a statue of the deity. Being repeatedly rebuilt this sanctuary at the end of the Ubaid period turned into a multiroom temple complex, which was on the meter high platform. Century by century such platforms were made higher and finally, about 2100 years BC reached the type and form of the temple complex, which today is called "Ziggurat" (similar to a pyramid).

The major raw materials were missing in Lower Mesopotamia, including lumber, metals, types of rocks, suitable for production of tools, construction and sculpture, and semi-precious stones.

This gave the vital importance to trade, which in its turn, contributed to the spread of Ubaid influences.

After 5400 BC Ubaid culture displaces Halaif one in Upper Mesopotamia. Ubaid pottery from Ur district spreads in the western shore of the Persian Gulf.

An important novelty of Ubaid people was a system of household bookkeeping, by symbols on clay tablets - the forerunner of the first systems of writing. 

It was about 4300 BC when the Ubaid period ended in Lower Mesopotamia (perhaps with the arrival of the Sumerians), and the population of this region persistently grew and turned in more complex hierarchical society in the Uruk period.

In its turn, the first towns in Lower Mesopotamia emerged in the era of Uruk (4300 - 3100 BC), designated as the title of one of the largest cities of the Sumerians - the people who inhabited south Mesopotamia that period and gave it the name "Sumer".

The towns with their social classes, which were defined by the administration, with clearly established pattern of relations between slaves, citizens and the institution of the supreme power, as well as a well-organized foreign trade, have become key factor for variety of public labor, including the taming of floods (which was especially important for this region).

The early Sumerian towns featured the dominated temple complexes, and high priests led the hierarchy of power.

The lower flow of the Tigris and Euphrates were characterized by violent floods and unforeseen changes of riverbeds, which were to be taken especially as the cruel whim of the gods (the biblical translation of the Great Flood originated in Sumer).

The priests were considered able to appease the gods, and this is probably provided them with sufficient authority for the exercise of authority in their cities.

It should be noted that about 2-8 thousand people lived in the Sumerian town of Uruk epoch, although in the town of Uruk (the largest of them) had a population of more than 10 thousand people, and by the year 2700 BC - over 50 thousand.

Most of them were farmers, who every day came out of town to work in the surrounding fields. They produced a significant additional product.

Thus, it was Sumer when it was found enough resources to hire & hold numerous professionals: soldiers, judges, officials, potters, masons, bakers, brewers, weavers, and the like.

Churches became centers of the commodity redistribution.

The food stock that was delivered by the rural districts and craft products were concentrated here and then were issued to give away to the population or exported in exchange for raw materials, which were not available in the area.

The system of trade covered the area from the Indus valley and the mountains of modern Afghanistan to Egypt, and played a significant role in spreading the influence of the Sumerian civilization in the Middle East.

The author repeatedly thought about the real essence of the priests in that period. Perhaps we all make mistakes, and originally the priests were ordinary merchants and had nothing to do with religion, but only helped people to exchange their surplus product. It was only after some time, the result was a lot of knowledge of trade, and to protect their privileges, the priests began to spread among the population of the religion and its relationship with the gods.

Around 3400 BC there was a pictographic writing system, which is likely to have evolved from the earlier system of symbols.

In Uruk epoch, obviously, a large “association” of Sumerian communities centered in the city of Nippur was formed, where the supreme Sumerian god Enlil was revered.

In the middle of the IV millennium BC the Sumerians establish the same type of colony in the Middle and Upper Euphrates, as well as in the north-western territories of present-day Iran (Godin-Tepe, Susa).

After the disappearance due to unknown causes of these colonies (about 3100 years BC) and after the completion of a relatively stable era Jemdet Nasr (3100-2900 BCE), Sumer has entered a new and troubled era of disunity and internecine warfare - the so-called early dynastic period (2900-2334 years to our era).

Next to the rulers, priests appear leaders of other nature. Some of them have the title "sanga" (accounting clerk) (possibly, administrators can achieve position, equal priestly), and others - called "Lugal" (literally - "a great man").

The latter, obviously, were military leaders. Previously, they were elected only for the period of military operations, but then they were able to make its power permanent and hereditary, relying on the strength of the troops. In an effort to show that their power is also sanctioned by the gods, rulers of not priestly descent build palaces directly nearby the temples.

In general, in ancient times, all the rulers of Sumer could also be called "ensi".

The first phase of the early dynastic period ended "Great Flood" (about 2750 BC), which was one of the major milestones of the Sumerian history and mythology.

The second phase features the advantage of the town of Kish in the north of Mesopotamia, and the cities of Uruk and Ur in the south.

The third phase (circa 2600-2334 BC) - the widespread fierce wars for hegemony of Sumerian rulers, which were complemented by an invasion from outside.

The hegemony of Kish and Uruk was followed by domination Elamites (about 2550 BC), mid Euphrates Marie, Kish again, near zagros Hamas, Uruk again (which merged with Ur), Adab (about 2400 BC), Kish again, then Akshak and again Kish (ca. 2350 BC).

Consequently, besides others Cauchy itself sought hegemony for four times.

The rulers of other towns also periodically led successful wars.

The prolonged border dispute between Lagash and Umma was finally settled when Ummi ruler, Lugal-Zage-Si, conquered Lagash along with most of Sumer and the Euphrates valley (about 2340 BC).

Lugal-Zage-Si ruling (who moved his capital to Uruk) summarized the history of the early dynastic period.

4. Formation of the principles of law.

Most likely, it was the civil wars and the inability to support the society due to natural processes in life and in the economy that have led to a need for the uniform standards and rules, summarized in one law, binding all the population living in areas controlled by the supreme ruler (it was especially important to express it to the conquered peoples).

At the same time, perhaps, for the purpose of the rulers to flirt with the people in struggle for power, for the first time the law was formed to determine the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens of society.

This step can be considered as a starting point in the legal culture of modern civilizations of the world.

With the increasing complexity of public management there were introduced the codes of law, such as the Urukagina Code (Uruingma), king of Lagash (ca. 2350 BC).

These laws could not be treated as the beginning of a law in general, because, as mentioned before, the rules of law existed much earlier - at the same time with the emergence of a new kind of human interaction in the form of society and the establishment of agreements between the institution of the supreme power, and certain number of the population of a society.

However, as we know from the  references to legal sources, information about the existence of the king of Lagash Urukagina Code and the reforms that they brought to the existing at the time the order in society - is the earliest information, among other sources of law.

Information about the specified supreme ruler and his laws was found during the excavations that were carried out during the French expedition led by Hernando de Sarzek in the last quarter of the XIX century on the hill Tello, when the capital of the Sumerian Lagash nome - Girsu was discovered. Special attention of researchers drew two clay cones, which was contained a report about the reforms carried out by these "lugal".

Despite the fact that the texts of the Code of the king of Lagash Urukagina were never found, the existing reports on the reforms give a fairly complete understanding of the fact that this "lugal" was the first Sumerian ruler, and perhaps the first ruler of the world, who began the progress and the assertion of rights and freedoms for its people.

This conclusion can be made from the following parts of the text, which refers to the "Abuse to Urukagina".

  1. We present part of the report, which describes the unfair taxes that existed before Urukagina.

“Since the old days, from ancient times, when the sailors-publicans ships exhibited, donkeys shepherds publicans exposed, sheep-herders publicans exposed, network-publicans exposed fishermen, priests shutug grain for rent (really) was measured swamp”.

The tax collectors were obviously on own vessels and thus "exhibited ships" (ie, controlled revenues sailors), followed by shepherds who grazed on the steppe their herds of donkeys and flocks of sheep, took the fish, which is owned by high power directly from fishing nets during the catch. At the same time, the harvest of the fields cultivated supreme power, climbed as in Sumer and Egypt, the officials, who then were given their share of farmers and the other picked up the ruler. Before Urukagina the tax collectors also laid hands on the crop, which was coming from the supreme authority of undeveloped swamp land.

An interesting fact is that Urukagina, unlike other rulers, does not date the abuse from the time of his predecessor, but since the inception of the society and the establishment of the supreme power in the city of Lagash in general - "From old days, from ancient times." That is Urukagina believed he that sets new era of life for Lagash, which also us the opportunity to claim that his reforms were an innovation in the world and first in the direction of establishing the rights and freedoms of the general population.

  1. The following is a part of the report, which describes the increase of extortions, by replacing the natural extortion by the money ones in pre  Urukagina times.

«Shepherds of fleece sheep a fee for white sheep with silver paid. Land surveyor, priest-reader chief, agrigue, brewer, warders fee for lamb-first with silver was paid.»

  1. The following is a part of the report, which describes the arbitrariness of one of the senior officials, which has the Patesi status, who used to their cattle to work on land of the priests, and the priests took away the grain (up times Urukagina).

«The bulls of the gods cultivated the garden of pathesy. A field of good gods in a garden, the place of joy of the pathesy has become. Donkeys, bulls in the yoke of all the high priests, they harnessed, the grain of all the high priests warriors pathesi took».

  1. «The broad clothes of the goddess Ninugginina, the clothes "uash", the clothes "shudur", the clothes "nigbarba", the linen clothes "ulal", the strings "sugga", the "salag" thread, the bronze helmet, the bronze nails, the "rurr" bronze, leather shiny, the wing of a bird "Shirburgi", "cumulus", bilgishe-clothes, goat wool clothes, all the high priests paid as a contribution. »
  2. A section of the report is given that describes crimes against the property of the poor man's widow, up to the time of Uruinimgina.

"The priest of supply in the garden of the poor man's mother chopped down the trees, he collected the fruits."

Since only the "poor man's mother" is named here, she is obviously widowed - and the widow was in any class society an object of all oppression.

At the same time, the poor men in Sumer were involved in the war as light-armed soldiers.

  1. A part of the report is given, which describes excessive fees for funerals, up to the times of Uruinimgina.

"A deceased is laid in the tomb - beer of his 7 pitchers, his bread 420, 1/2 measures of grain" chazi ", 1 clothing, 1 best young goat, 1 bed" kushu "(goddess) Ninny, 1/4 measure of grain, the man of lamentation carried away ".

  1. A part of the report is given that describes excessive fees for the seriously ill patient, received by the oracle before the time of Uruinimgina.

"If a man is put on the reed of Enki's god, his beer 7 jugs, his bread 420, that's 1/2 grain measure, 1 apparel, 1 bed, 1" kushu "chair (goddess) Ninny, the man of lamentation carried away ".

  1. A part of the report on excessive charges from artisans prior to the Uruimimmina times are being introduced.

"The craftsmen (contribution) of bread for hands had a release."

The tax imposed on artisans was paid by them for "liberating the hands", that is, for the right to earn their trade.

  1. The part of the report on coercion of soldiers and temple workers to slave labor concerning irrigation is given, before the time of Uruinimgina.

"Pairs if fellows had (guilt) raising the pitchers of water in the garden pools."

  1. Perhaps, part of the report on the capture of temple complexes by senior officials of patesu is given, prior to the time of Uruinimgina.

"At the pathesi house, at the pathesi field, at his wife house, at the field of his wife's house, at the children's home, at the children's field control was established."

  1. Part of the report on the establishment of total judicial control over the population of the country, up to the times of Uruimimgina, is given.

"Beginning from the border of the god Ningirsu up to the sea, the controllers of the court stayed."

"Court supervisors" apparently followed the proceedings of communities on state and temple grounds. They thereby increased the cost of legal proceedings and, moreover, undoubtedly abused their power. In fact, referring to the judges of that time, and the existence of the already formed legislation of the country, which requires constant monitoring of its compliance.

  1. We present part of the report on the establishment of the control of the supreme power of the water (which could possibly be allowed only from certain wells) or the construction of wells (the number of which could be limited by power), until the time of Urukagina.

"Shub-lugal at the height of the field-his chest built a well," the eyes does not raise "(water) mounted."

"Keep eyes down" - the name of a social category that is found in the documents of economic reporting Urukagina time. It answers the servants who were standing in front of his master with their head tilt down.

  1. We present part of the report on the setting of the control of the supree power of the water, which is supplied via special channels "qanats" (probably underground), by means of construction of these channels by slaves of the supreme power, until the time of Urukagina.

"Shub-lugal at the height of the field built a well," the eye does not raise "(water) mounted."

Analyzing the above text of the report, we can say that until the ruler Urukagina came to power, the rights of the population, if they were not pro-government employees, had little difference from the rights of slaves, except the right to receive a portion of the income of the supreme power and the right to work for their choice.

However, the modern state system and its drawbacks are mostly similar to the actions of the supreme authority of ancient Mesopotamia.

Moreover, the above relationships are somewhat reminiscent of the capitalist system, but with the added feature of a formal slavery.

Today the tax system is more severe than the one described in Parts 1-4 and 8 of the report.

For burial of a deceased and for a spot in the cemetery at the moment we need to pay considerably more than in the old days, as described in Part 6 of the report.

Quality medical care is also quite expensive, and the cost, which is defined in paragraph 7 of the report, much less than today.

Water Control and water trade by state is commonplace today, and is no different from the events described in Paragraphs 12 and 13 of this report.

The judicial power is also now owned by the state, as described in Part 11 of the report, and control over the activity of population is carried out with the police.

Thus it’s difficult to say that the modern life of ordinary people is much better than of people in ancient times. And given the fact that today ordinary citizens do not receive part of the revenue of the state, and their rights can be regarded as more limited than in ancient times.

However, such approach to the oppression of the population in the old days could lead to the destruction of the supreme power.

Given the above and the conditions that have been established at that time in that country, we can understand how important were the reforms made ruler Urukagina and described in the report.

  1. He eliminated the sheepkeeper-tax collector from the donkeys, he eliminated the shepherds-tax collectors from the shepherds, he removed them from the tax collector's nets, he eliminated the grain for renting the clerical priests of the manager of the bins.
  2. From the obligation to pay in silver for the white sheep, for the first lamb controllers, he eliminated it.
  3. From the contribution that all the high priests brought to the palace, he removed the inspectors.
  4. In the pathesi house, in the field of the pathesi god Ningirsu, the ruler placed them in the house of the wife's house, in the field of the house of the wife the goddess Baba appointed their mistress; In the children's house, in the field of the children of the god Shugshaggan, the ruler set them.
  5. From the border of Ningirsu up to the sea, the controllers were not commanded by man.
  6. The dead man is laid to the tomb - his 3 jars of beer, 80 loaves of it, 1 bed, 1 kid of the best "kushu" (goddess) Ninny, 1/8 measure of grain the man of lamentations carried away.
  7. If a man is put on the reed of Enki's God, from him beer 4 jars, his bread 240, 1/4 of the measure of grain is the "kushu" (goddess) Ninny, 1/8 measure of grain the man of lamentations carried away.
  8. 1 women’s headscarf , 1 the power of the incense of the superb high priestess carried away 420 loaves of bread, bread, set it, 40 loaves of fresh, set it, 10 loaves of fresh bread of the sacrificing table that, 5 loaves of a rise man, beer 2 " Hubur "-the vessel, 1 jug-pitcher - (issue) of the priest-reader (quarter) to Giersu. 490 loaves, 2 "hubur" -court, 1 "sarge"-pitcher - (release) of the priest-reader Lagash. 406 loaves of bread, beer 1 "hubur" -court, 1 "sarge"-pitcher - (release). For the priest-reader. 250 loaves,  beer 1 "hubur" – it’s a vessel - (delivery) for mourners. 180 loaves of bread, beer 1 "hubur" -the vessel (issue) of witnesses in Siraran. "The eye that does not lift up," which killed (the victims), established, its bread (for) the mouth, set, 1 this, 5 loaves of its black for his one month, 1 white bread of the sacrificial for giving away it, 6 loaves of black giving out "the sky" of it. 60 loaves, beer 1 "hubur" -court, 1/8 measure of grain - (release) of a person (as) "son", acting it.
  9. (Duty) raising the pitchers of water in the garden pools with the deuce of "fellows" he cancelled.
  10. (Contribution) of bread by the hands for the liberation of artisans, he cancelled.
  11. The priest of supply to the poor man's garden did not enter.
  12. If the "shub-lugal" ("subordinate king") donkey is born well (and) if the overseer of his "I want to buy from you" will say, if he (ie "fur shub-lugal"), when he (that is, the supervisor) sells, "silver for my satisfaction is good for me," he will be told (or) when he does not sell it to him, the guard in anger because of this, let him not beat him!
  13. Near the house of a big man a house of the "shub-lugal" is bordered, (and) if a big man "I want to buy you" will say, if he (that is, "shub-lugal"), when he (him) to a big man) sells, "silver for my satisfaction is good for me!

My house belonging to the cadastre. Regarding grain, be trustworthy for me here! "He will be told (or) when he does not sell it to him, a person big in anger because of this, let him not beat him!

  1. He ordered the children of Lagash from the lodging of life, the measures set, the grain dried up, robbery, murder, the destruction of the house to release (literally, "cleanse"), the right created them. That the orphan (and) widow of husband, who had power, did not indulge with the god Ningirsu Urukagin put this word.

As we can see, the first time the supreme power directly (in fact, through the introduction of a peremptory norm) provides the ability to make a free use of unoccupied land and water, to produce and procure products for their habitat and protect the rights of persons who have no physical protection due to lack of enough money or -this lack of physical defender (this is more about a widow or a woman, whose physical defender is at war or in the service of the ruler).

This fact indicates that, at that time, the ordinary physical strength still was the basic protection of human rights and freedoms remained an, but not the supreme authority in the form of legal norms.

Only with Urukagina, there was made an attempt to establish a direct protection of vulnerable groups of the population, by introducing such protection in law on behalf of the supreme power.

It is on the basis of this fact that the author of the article considers it possible to indicate the moment when the country ruler Lagash-Uruinimgin came to power as a starting point in the history of the development of law related to the assertion of the rights and freedoms of citizens.

At the same time, the author admits that at the time the Urukagina ruler came to power, the public dissatisfaction towards the authorities was rampant and could lead to an uprising or force people towards another ruler, as a candidate for the title of supreme ruler of the country, or even to the ruler of another country (which often happened in those days).

Based on this, it is hardly possible to define the king Urukagina, as a person, which sought to establish justice in the country and the equality of all people. Rather than that Urukagina was a great ruler and politician, from the point of view of settlement of social conflicts, predicting the effects of pro-government activities and prospects of development of the country itself. It is in no way intended to terminate slavery or reduce the size of his income and government revenues. On the contrary, the strengthening and expansion of rights of free population only widens the gap with the rights of slaves.

At the same time, as a result of the reforms, the ruler not only benefited from the people, but also boosted the economy, which in its turn significantly increased the treasury of the supreme power. The laws at the time of Urukagina, only rarely mentioned death penalty, compared to the later codes of Mesopotamia, and are likely to be more merciful.

Most likely, at the time was not yet officially formed to protect individual rights principle of "an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth” (tit for tat), declared in the subsequent rulers of Ur-Nammu and Hammurabi.

Improving the rights and freedoms of citizens looked as the tax reduction or cancellation of total control of their lives, and the launch of a new distribution of wealth in the country. It is from this point of view one should consider the legal reforms that have been carried out by Urukagina ruler, and which initiated the reforms in the future in neighboring countries and beyond in the world.

In its turn, from the standpoint of the history of law, such move as legal reform by a ruler, that aims to improve the living standards of population, is essential for the subsequent formation and consolidation of the rules of law, which provide rights and public freedom (and although it is only for the free population, it doesn’t lessen the impact of the reforms Urukagina ruler to establish a legal culture in general in the world).

It should be noted that in addition to the laws of the supreme rulers, the right of customs existed, which was spread through the priests, elders and sages.

In this part it is impossible to miss the great influence on social relations teachings of the legendary ancient Sumerian and wise Shurupaku (dated XXV century BC), which was widely known in ancient Sumer and consisted of a living and practical advice in the form of philosophical and legal precepts.

In this monument to the history of law were discussed certain rules and norms, moral and respectable and law-abiding behavior, which requires people to refrain from lying, impatience, envy, theft and murder, and here are some of them:

My son, I want to give advice, take my guidance.

The advice that I will give, do not despise.

Words, what I say, do not step over.

Almighty is the guidance of the fathers, be obedient to them.

Do not rush - so you will not be addicted.

Do not steal - do not ruin yourself.

Do not rush into the house, do not dare someone else's sieve.

The thief is a lion, and once he is seized he is a slave.

My child, do not commit murder!

With a young married woman do not talk, slander is invincible.

Do not break the word, your word is the basis.

Do not be deceived by stealing goods - Do not mark your hands, You will not get much profit.

Do not choose the ways of black, his good is evil.

What you throw with power, you will then drop.

Whoever breaks down house, with house will be crushed.

Who will rise on people, on that people will rise.

Who will bring a mighty bull to his back - one can’t cross the river.

Before heroism, you will bow your head.

You will obey the authority.

My child, then you will resist the evil man.

Do not challenge the words of your mother and guardian god.

To father's advice, be careful. "

Stunning popularity of instruction on the territory of the Sumerian cities (mentioned in the libraries of almost every Sumerian city) suggests that this document not only had an impact on the creation of laws in these communities, but also, and that he sometimes substituted for the law, that is established peremptory norm of human behavior in the community, regardless of class difference.

Thus, it can be assumed that this instruction launches a certain legal culture in the Sumerian society, i.e. there was a certain rule of law or legal custom, compared to which person's behavior was assessed, and as a consequence, to determine his/her right to be a proper member of society.

By the end of the Early Dynastic period in Sumer, although it remained, as before, rich and densely populated, have the advantages of the Akkadians, who have long lived there. Their rise is associated with the name of the first "world conqueror", well-known to historians as Sargon the Great from Agadde (reigned about 2334-2279 years BC).

As the story goes, Sargon was a outcast, and served at the court of the supreme ruler of the city of Kish in the southern part of subordinate Sumer - in the city of Akkad.

When the ruler of the city of Kish died in the war with the ruler of Umma and Uruk Lugal-Zage-Si (the most powerful ruler of Mesopotamia at the time), Sargon rooted in Akkad and became an independent ruler.

Later, he defeated Lugal-Zage-Si of three bloody battles. His influence extended to Sargon Upper Mesopotamia and Elam, and then headed west to Anatolia and the Mediterranean Sea.

By uniting the peoples of diverse ethnic and cultural affiliation, Sargon created the country of a new type, which can be compared with the empire. He rebuilt the capital, not yet found by archaeologists, in the northern part of Sumer named Akkad.

Strengthening the supreme ruler power with Sargon and his successors (continued when the rulers of the Third Dynasty of Ur, helped by the victorious war of the rulers) was an expected phenomenon. It was dictated by the necessity to unite communities, and to have a centralized and efficient use of irrigation and water system.

Hence arises a new kind of ruler - Lugal-hegemon, whose power extended beyond a single city, and because of this is not confined to public bodies.

The power of the rulers began to acquire hereditary and administrative staff and the governor himself - to embody the unity of large areas. Local ENSI were erected in the position of the officials, to the supreme ruler was subordinated to the temple administration.

Country of Sargon reached its climax with his grandson Naramsin (ca. 2254-2218 BCE), but then declined and died about 2193 BC as a result of the invasion of mountain tribes Guti.

Its previous disintegration got back for another eighty years, until the revival of Sumer with the ruler Ur-Namu (about 2112-2095 years BC), who founded the Third Dynasty of Ur using diplomacy not less than the power. The area, which was under the control of the rulers of this dynasty now extended as far north as Assyria. Construction of large ziggurats begins with Ur-Namu.

The centralization tendencies were strengthened due to understanding of the divine nature of power, allegedly given to the supreme ruler by the heavens.

All the rulers of the Third Dynasty of Ur, but the first Ur-Nammu, wrote their names next to the name of God, in virtue of the fact that they claim to have been chosen by the gods, and are endowed with a special supreme authority, which put them above all people. The rule of power embodied in the special attributes of this power - dress, tiara, wand and other.

During the reign of the Third Dynasty of Ur, the first steps were made to move from declaratory legislation to the legislation with the define rules of law that protect human rights and freedoms by the authorities. The text of the laws of Ur-Nammu ruler was written in late Sumer language and come down to us in two copies on clay tablets.

One can’t ignore the fact that the preamble of Ur-Nammu laws is very similar to the reform legislation of Urukagina ruler, according to which in the same way decrease taxes and control over the activities of the country's population.

Similar to Urukagina, the Ur-Namma ruler points out he established justice in the country. However, it was not about equal rights, but about creation of adequate protection of the rights and freedoms of free people according to their status by authorities.

When tracking the evolution of the law from Urukagina to Ur-Nammu, one can  conclude that there clearly was an increase the scope of rights of free ordinary population of the country.

For the reason, the Ur-Nammu ruler made a statement that it was him who directly set justice in the country.

“I did not give an orphan to the rich, nor a widow to a strong one, I did not give one mine to a man of one shekel, I did not give an ox to a man of one sheep.”

(talking about people with different financial status).

My military leaders, my mothers, my brothers, and their families, I accepted, but not listened to their wishes

(an attempt to avoid nepotism in the public service).

“I did not issue tyranny orders. Hatred, violence, and appeals to the Utu I destroyed. Justice in the country, I found"

This entry does not mean that justice did not exist in the same form before. During the period that lasted after the reign of Urukagina, the concept of rights and freedoms in people's minds significantly expanded, with the development of culture and under the constant influence of neighboring nations.

This in turn required rethinking of their supreme authority to consolidate the new level of legislative protection.

5. Formation of the law as a centralized system of control and regulation of social relations.

Monetary reforms (introduction of copper and bronze coins) have led to a reassessment of the material wealth of population, and to a significant gap in wealth between the wealthy and poor citizens, and as a consequence, this led to a need for more stringent protection of the wealth of some people against the encroachments by others.

So was first launched the death penalty and the restriction of a freedom as an effective protection of the right of man for life, liberty and property.

The events of the sort witnessed the beginning of the establishment of a new level of understanding of the human right for life, liberty, inviolability, health and property.

At 2034 BC, the Third dynasty of Ur came under pressure of nomadic Amorites (Semites) from the Syrian Desert and Upper Mesopotamia, but it was fatally hit by Elamites (Persians) who smashed Ur in 2004 BC. The country was destroyed and it ceased to exist. The Sumerians never sought advantages in Mesopotamia.

At the same time, Amorites significantly influenced the formation of Assyria and Babylon.

Assyria with its center in Ashur emerged as an independent country with its strong trade in the nineteenth century BC.

However, it has become a big country only after the Amorite Shamshi-Adad I at about 1813 BC, captured a large part of Upper Mesopotamia, including Ashur, he made one of his capitals. Amorites dynasty also settled in Babylon in about 1894 BC.

Amorite tribes settled in conquered territory, gradually assimilated with the local population, as opposed to the Elamites, who returned after the looting of the rich cities of Sumer and Akkad back to their mountains.

After the defeat of the Third dynasty of Ur, the only country of Sumer and Akkad was replaced with two independent countries in the north and the south of Mesopotamia (with capitals in Lars and Isin, respectively), separated by invaded Amorite tribes.

The rulers of both dynasties attempted to continue the tradition of Ur and therefore called themselves "the rulers of Sumer and Akkad."

The following two centuries was a time of internecine wars between Akkadian and Amorite dynasties.

By comparing the number of fragments of cuneiform tablets excavated at Nippur, one could restore, albeit in incomplete form, a collection of codes of the fifth ruler of the dynasty of Isin, Lipitishara. Created at the behest of the Amorite ruler, i.e. Semite, it was, however, written in Sumerian and compiled, according to the foreword taking into account, first and foremost, the interests of the urban population of Nippur, Ur and Isin.

From the excerpts that were preserved, it is clear that the laws did not make a distinction between a slave war prisoner, a purchased slave or a debtor-slave.

The laws of the ruler of Isin did not make any legal term difference between the Amorite conquerors and the conquered population of Sumer and Akkad, that may have caused discontent among the Amorites.

Eventually, this led to an open revolt of the Amorites and certain victory of the rebels in the first stage.

However, the triumph of the winners didn’t last long, and the uprising was crushed by a successor of Lipitishara Urninurtoy during which reign the slave-owning aristocracy Sumer and Akkad for some time prevailed.

Nobility reached the power and in the south, in the country Lars.

From the time of its reign the only fragment of the laws came to us in shape of only 9 articles.

However, of those fragments that remained, one can already make a judgement that the law protected the interests of the slave owners.

Also, he kept, for example, the free population the right to work for their adopted children and did not protect the latter from the arbitrariness of foster parents.

There are grounds for asserting that the law at that time did not limit the usurious actions of the large slaveholders.

A high level of development of the law that time says the fact that while determining the punishment there was an attempt to take into account evil will on the part of the person causing the damage.

However, the reign of Isin and Larsa did not go beyond Mesopotamia. Isin's immediate neighbors were the country of Mari in the northwest, located on the middle flow of the Euphrates, and the country of Yesnunna in the northeast, in the valley of the river Diyala, the main tributary of the Tigris.

In both of these areas, numerous archaeological studies have been carried out, which results shed a bright light on the law of the Near East (West Asia) of the beginning of the II millennium BC.

The world now knows the public relations of Yesnunna people due to the collection (or at least its part) of laws of Bilalama, the ruler of the country at the beginning of the twentieth century BC that were found.

In contrary to the laws of Isin and Larsa, the laws of Yesnunna were drawn not in the Sumerian, but in the Akkadian language, the language of the first Semitic tribes that settled in the Mesopotamia and adjacent areas.

In all, about 60 articles of the most diverse content have remained from the laws of Bilalama.

Thus, the first two articles are devoted to the determination of prices for various goods, the prices in the first article being expressed in silver, and in the second in grain.

A number of articles scrutinize various forms of hiring.

Several articles aimed to protect "the property of the so-called mushken (not full-fledged free citizen) and determine their place in society."

The articles dealing with loan operations indicate a significant development of usury. As in other ancient Eastern laws, a large place is taken by articles related to the solution of various issues of family law.

The laws of Bilalama, the Yesnunni ruler, do not much differ from the legal monuments of the Mesopotamia that came to us and were considered earlier.

Here, as in Ishin and Lars, a theft or harboring of a slave was punished not by execution, but merely a fine, which shall be collected with the perpetrator. Under such conditions, large slave owners could well risk driving slaves from small slaveholders. In the legislation of Yesnunni, the difference between full citizens, probably Amorite conquerors, and Mushken ("subordinates", "submissive", as we shall see, there is a difference of this concept) began to be smoothed out. Bodily injuries and in relation to full-fledged citizens were punished in Eshnunne only by a fine. True, in the south and in Ishin, and in Lars, the term "subordinate" gradually disappeared, but in Eshnunna, although it survived, it almost lost its original meaning. The rapprochement in the legal position between the conquerors and the "subordinates" (Mushken) was, of course, due to the prescription of the conquest of Yesnunni and the merging of the Amorites who invaded with the local Akkadian population.

"Eshnunna, like its western neighbor Marie, took part in the fierce struggle of countries of Mesopotamia between them, which eventually led to a creation of powerful and great, although not very durable, country of the Babylonian ruler Hammurabi."

"Babylon was located in the northern part of Mesopotamia, on the Euphrates river. The name of the city "Babili" (Vavilon) means "gate of God".

Babylon, as an independent country, was relatively late to step into the arena of history, so in the list of ruling dynasties, compiled by the writers of the Ishin dynasty, did not mention neither Babylonian dynasty. Late Babylonian priestly legend mentions Babylon, telling that the gods punished Sargon, the king of Akkad, for the evil inflicted on Babylon. There is a legend about the penalty incurred by the largest representative of the III Dynasty of Ur Shulga for robbing the temple of Marduk, the god of Babylon.

It’s already during the Third Dynasty of Ur, that Babylon evidently began to play a significant role: in documents it is mentioned along with such cities as Ummah, Kish, Sippar.

It was around 1895 BC, when the Amorite tribes which invaded again and succeeded in capturing the northern part of the Isin kingdom and created an independent country, the capital of which was the city of Babylon. For a century the new country did not play a big role. But at the beginning of the eighteenth century BC, Isin, weakened by the fall of Babylon, lost its former importance, and Lars was conquered by the Elamites shortly before (in 1834 BC).

In the north, there came a period of temporary strengthening of Assyria, which placed some regions of Akkad in its dependence, in particular, on the Mari and Yesnunni cities.

These circumstances were used by the Babylonian ruler Hammurabi (reign 1792-1750 BC) to untie his hands in the struggle for domination in the Mesopotamia. At the same time, Hammurabi, in the beginning, temporarily recognized his dependence of the ruler of Assyria Shamshi-Adad I.

Already in the 7th year of his reign, Hammurabi conquered Uruk and Isin with the help of Rimsin, the representative of the Elam dynasty in Lars, with the rulers of which were at that time maintained friendly relations.

When he built the channel of great economic importance that was called "Hammurabi-inheritance" on the 9th year of his reign, he tried to reconcile the population of the conquered regions under his power.

Reaching the first significant success, Hammurabi became wary of intervention by the ruler of Assyria-Shamshi Adada I and his allies-steppe tribes. He began to take measures to strengthen its northern borders and began the conquest of border areas.

After death of Shamshi-Adada, Hammurabi contributed to exile his son off Marie. Using Hammurabi again the representative of old Marie house rulers Zimrilim sat on the throne of his fathers. A new flourishing of the Mari country successfully resisted the raids of steppe tribes and Eshnunny invasion. Trade links of Marie reach distant Crete.

Hammurabi, helping Zimrilimu to conquer the throne, became his ally. They called each other "brothers". Zimrilim had their permanent representatives to the courtyard of the Babylonian ruler, but the latter in letters often addressed directly Zimrilimu and his officials. In its foreign policy, both rulers usually performed in concert.

The position of Hammurabi, who conquered Isin and Uruk in the south, relied in the north on an alliance with Marie, and was extremely beneficial. Even then (around the 15th to 16th year of his reign), he was one of the most powerful rulers of the Mesopotamia.

But soon the relationships between the ruler of Larsa Rimsin and Hammurabi worsened, and this temporarily put the Babylonian ruler in a predicament.

As a result of the fall of the southern regions and the separation of the northern border strip for Hammurabi, a difficult political situation was created. Having accumulated strength for a decisive blow, he began a protracted attack on his enemies in the 30th year of his reign. Hammurabi defeated his northern enemies, led by Eshnunnaya, and defeated the Elam army, who tried to help them. In the next, the 31st year of his reign (1762 BC), he attacked his main opponent, Rimcin, capturing his capital, Lars; it is possible that Rimxin fled to Elam.

Strengthening the power of the Babylonian ruler caused great anxiety over the fate of personal power from his ally Zimrilim, and during the war he avoided assisting Hammurabi.

After the victory over Eshnunnaya, Hammurabi invaded the country of Zimrilim. At the 33rd year of his reign, Hammurabi subdued Mari's country and its neighboring areas. Zimrilim did not want to reconcile himself to a subordinate position, but then he suffered an even more cruel punishment. In the 35th year of his reign Hammurabi defeated Marie, destroyed the magnificent palace of Zimrilim and the walls of the city. In subsequent years, the Babylonian ruler subdued to himself the region along the Tigris, including Ashur.

Combining primary a crucial part of the Valley of the Tigris and Euphrates, Hammurabi became the owner of trade routes to the East, North and West. He spread his influence on substantial areas of Elam in the East. In documents of the time the Elam prisoners of war were repeatedly mentioned. All areas of Asia Minor and Syria, who were in trade relations with the country of Marie, were now included in the orbit of Babylonian trade.

During this period, the influence of Babylonian culture on the Syrian cities, on the Hittite tribal union, on the country of Phoenicia Ugarit was intensified.

In the west, the Babylonian culture of this period is affected in Palestine.

It is possible that Babylonia, with Hammurabi or with his closest successors, entered into relations with an even more distant country - with Egypt.

At that time, in Babylon in the XVIII century BC in the Mesopotamia the instruments of production continued to be improved, the labor experience of people was enriched, and the skills of labor were improved. The irrigation network was developed and improved. Perhaps more than in Egypt, the need for a complex calculation of the periods of the flood of the Euphrates and Tigris created the preconditions for the development of Babylonian astronomy. Irrigation works also required the deepening of some mathematical knowledge, for example, in the calculation of the volume of dirt digging and the number of manpower. The technique of using the irrigation network reached a great deal of perfection at that time: improved water-lifting structures were now created to irrigate high fields, which the water did not reach during the rise of the river. Agricultural machinery was also improved. Perhaps, around this time a plow with a funnel were widely spread, into which grain was placed for sowing, although there is evidence that it was already known during the III Dynasty of Ur. The horse, although not widely used, was already known among the pets.

Regarding the use of metals, Mesopotamia was the most advanced country of that time. Here already at the beginning of the II millennium BC the Bronze Age was firmly established. From time to time, even iron appears in use. The growing use of metal increased the effectiveness of tools in agriculture, which continued to play a major role in the country's economy.

Along with agricultural machinery, the tools of various crafts continued to develop, and the techniques of artisans were also improved. The laws of Hammurabi enumerate representatives of ten different branches of craft such as brick makers, weavers, blacksmiths, carpenters, shipbuilders, house builders and others, but this is far from listing all known numerous crafts of the period. Prerequisites for the development of knowledge in the field of chemistry were created. We have received small fragments of Babylonian labor in chemistry, which, for example, give instructions on how to make fake gems, simulated copper, silver, and so on.

Trade and exchange developed during this period. True, even now the merchants - the Tamkari continued to remain legally the position of the merchant agents of the ruler, but their importance to the beginning of the II millennium BC increased, they now had their assistants who ran the retail trade and accompanied the caravans.

Monetary economy continued to develop. Now the only measure of prices was silver, and on the basis of documents that have come down to us, you can establish a price ratio in the markets of Babylon at the beginning of the II millennium BC. Not only craftsmen, but also agricultural workers, who were employed for a long period, received their salaries in silver.

However, some categories of agricultural workers, like plowmen and shepherds, received payment in grain or in products.

The high amount of silver in the trade turnover is proved by a relatively low interest for a loan - 20%. Although the Hammurabi laws also set the 20% to grain loans, this regulation of the law was not implemented with respect to loans of this kind.

If a 20% legal interest was levied for a silver loan, then 33% was levied for a loan by grain.

Such a high percentage for a grain loan was due to a sharp fluctuation in grain prices in different periods of the agricultural year.

The importance of loans and interest in the economic life of Babylon is reflected not only in business documents of the beginning of the II millennium BC, but also in the school literature existing that time. In the series of tablets with the characteristic heading "Harrahbullu", that is, "interest loan", Sumerian legal terms were composed for educational purposes, in particular, concerning loans, as well as loans, with their Akkadian transfer, such as "debt obligation" "Interest loan", "interest-free loan", "gift" and so on. Calculations of debt interest were expressed in special assignments in mathematical literature that has come down to us.

In the private-law documents of that time, we find numerous evidences of usurious operations. Documents preserved that ascended to the priestess-recluses of the local temple of the Sun God - Shamash in the city of Sippar. These pre-Christian "nuns" through their relatives - fathers and brothers - made land purchases, rented their land, gave money for growth, bought slaves and so on.

There were usurers in the ancient city of Kish who lent silver and grain on on bail fields and ripening harvest, bought up houses, granaries, gardens, fields and so on.

But the most famous representatives of capital usurers known to us were in the cities of Uruk and Lars, southern Sumer. A part of an archive of two brothers-usurers in Uruk was found, who bought literally for pennies more than 40 houses and plots for some 20 years.

In the documents found during the excavations in Lars, we see a new type of slaver, different from the slavers of previous periods by the fact that he was not in a foreign land, but bought him slaves among his own fellow citizens in his hometown. Two slavers, mentioned by the documents, through usurious operations turned their fellow citizens into debtor slaves and provided them for hire for those who needed a labor, mostly rich artisans with their own workshops.

At the same time these documents establish the fact of undivided dominance of the slave-owning nobility in Lars during the reign of Rimsin. Thus, the aforementioned slavers, renting out their slave-debtors, stipulated their right to full reimbursement of the value of the slave not only in the case of slave’s escape in an unknown direction, but also in case of slave’s escape to the household of a ruler, a temple or a noble person. Obviously, at that time the large slave-owners had such a power at their disposal that they allowed them to take unpunished slaves into their household with impunity.

At this time, the sale of parents by children is disastrously increasing. There was even a proverb:

"A strong man lives by his own hands, and a weak man lives at the cost of his children."

The development of exchange, money system and usury had to strengthen the process of stratification of rural communities. This is evidenced by complaints of community representatives to their elders: at the head of the communities, together with a council of noble community members, was no longer an elected official, but an official of the ruler, who, of course, did not protect ordinary members of the community from encroachments on the part of the mighty ones.

Within the communities themselves, some well-to-do members of the community became more independent. There was obviously no longer any right to control the community over the property of its individual members, since the land could be leased, inherited and sold without any visible restrictions on the part of the community. In the sources that have come down to us, there is no indication of the existence of community grazing.

Of course, one can’t call it a complete destruction of the rural community by this time, but, undoubtedly, all the above data point to the process of degradation of communities that has gone far. These communities could not provide effective assistance to representatives of rural communities against oppression by large slave owners.

The standard of living of the Babylonians still was little different from the standard of living of the people of the Mesopotamia in the Sumerian period. At the same time, the houses of wealthy people sometimes had two floors, with a wooden gallery on poles around the patio.

However, most of the houses were very small structures of raw brick, with flat roofs, dull walls (the rooms were lit only through the doorways from the backyard).

In the rich houses in the III millennium began appearing beds, stools, little tables, but even in the family of the small slave owner, there was often only one bed; Not only slaves, but also the younger members of the family slept on matting or on the floor. Wooden doors were considered valuable movable property and were removed when the house was sold.

Wealth comprised metal dish wear, grain barley and wheat stocks; rarely rich people stocked silver ingots. The majority of the population lived in extreme poverty, the famine was a constant guest in the family of the Babylonian; families were few in number, as diseases and malnutrition won children. Labor conditions have improved little from Sumerian time; as true, as it seems, there became more various water-lifting tools, but they were primitive devices and probably demanded hard labor to operate.

Unfortunately, historians do not yet have any sources that would witness the resistance of the popular masses to the enslavement of their large slaveholders. However, indirect evidence of such resistance on the part of the people can be considered attempts to somewhat restrict usury and stop the process of enslaving of the free ones, which is reflected in the laws of Hammurabi.

The Babylonian rulers had to try to restrain the development of usury and debt slavery, since its further development led to a decrease in the population that is taxed by the supreme authority, and to a decrease in the number of the militia, which consisted of free farmers. Over time, the increase of debt slavery inevitably weakened the power of the Babylonian rulers themselves, as well as the power of the slave-owning country as a whole.

At that time, the supreme authority in Babylon reached its greatest strength concentration - one of the varieties of the eastern monarchy begins to form.

And already Hammurabi gained his formally unlimited legislative authority.

He was the head of a large administrative apparatus. This is evidenced by about 60 orders of Hammurabi (which have survived till our days) to the governors of the supreme ruler in cities and regions, and to military commanders, ambassadors (orders for the removal and appointment of officials, census, construction of canals, collection of taxes, etc.).

As in other ancient Eastern countries, the extensive economic functions were concentrated in the hands of the supreme ruler: the management of the irrigation farm, the construction of temples, the regulation of commodity prices, the formation of remuneration for artisans, doctors, builders. Under Hammurabi the merchants were turned into the agents of the ruler of the country. The activities of special officials-supervisors from the supreme power were connected with the broad growth of usury.

The country was divided into areas under the control of shakkanakkum officials, responsible for collecting taxes to sustain the order and convene a militia, as well as control heads, who were appointed, rabianum.

However, the power of the ancient Babylonian rulers can not be unconditionally called despotic.

And in the time of Hammurabi, public authorities, the council of elders, and public assemblies continued to exist. Their authority were significantly curtailed, but they retained a number of administrative, financial and judicial functions, as well as functions to maintain public order (managed public land, allowed together with representatives of the supreme authority disputable issues between the community members and the holders of allotments from the supreme ruler, distributed taxes and determined fees and other).

Some of the most ancient and important cities in Babylonia (Nippur, Sippar, Babylon) could have a special legal status, since they were regarded as being under the protection of a local deity. The inhabitants of these cities could be exempted from taxes, labor service and military service.

Babylonian rulers, probably, could not break the full resistance of some rural communities and tribes.

Judging by the laws of Hammurabi, they were well aware of the danger of "turmoil and mutinies leading to death."

To the benefit of political stability, the rulers were forced to grant a number of privileges (to exempt from taxes and military service, labor obligations) not only to their servants, to large landowners, but also to some tribal leaders and temples. At the same time, such privileges were recorded on stone monuments - kudurra ("border stone").

The relationship between the central government and the temples was also complex and contradictory. Temples, relying on their own large landownership and a large number of dependent persons, sought economic independence. Only under Hammurabi the temples were almost completely subordinated administratively and economically to a person who appointed priests and administrators to them, and naturally demanded a report on economic activities.

Hammurabi was named "the God of rulers, that he knows wisdom," "the heart of Babylon," "the beloved of the goddess Ishtar," but he was not the deity himself, and not even a supreme priest.

The supreme ruler, for example, could enter the temple only during the New Year celebration, the coronation ceremony was repeated here every year, accepting his supreme authority from the hands of the god Marduk.

Coronation made a person in Babylon able to rule, but did not turn him in a God. The supreme ruler could be deposed to the status of an ordinary man, deprived of his power due to the extreme danger of the deeds he undertook.

In his good and fair deeds, service and worship of the gods, the support of the temples was his salvation. The great, thanks to his power, in comparison to his subjected people, the ruler, because of his human nature, according to Mesopotamian theology, remained only a subject to the nature and gods that embodied it.

The leading place in the administration of justice in ancient Babylonian society, prior to Hammurabi, belonged to the temple and community courts. The councils of temples, community assemblies or a panel of public judges, which was specially defined by them, acted as judicial bodies.

The ruler's courts are also mentioned early in the sources. So, even in the Sumerian city of Lagash there was a special supreme judge - one of the great dignitaries of the ruler.

Strengthening the supreme authority led to the restriction of the judicial powers of communities and temples. In communities, collegiate courts were still members of the council of elders, but they were governed by rabianums. These courts were not subject to the ruler's people, they could not consider cases involving the property of the ruler.

In its turn, the courts of the supreme ruler, under Hammurabi, were presented in all major cities, mainly dealing with the matters of the people of this ruler. However, the ruler did not act either by the highest cassation nor appellate instance. He had the right to pardon in case of a death sentence.

He was brought complaints on judicial red tape, abuse of judges, and denial of justice. Complaints were submitted by the ruler for decision to the appropriate administrative or judicial authorities: communities or authorities of the ruler. There were no courts at all, any court decision was final in principle. The governors' deputies almost everywhere could call to a court, arrest and search the criminals.

Along with the professional judges of the supreme ruler, sources show that there were special judicial posts of the heralds, police or bailiffs, court messengers and transcribers. Temples have not completely lost their judicial power. They belonged to an important role in taking oaths, in witnessing the legitimacy of transactions, in the procedure of Ordaliya - "God's court", which was considered an important means of establishing the truth.

In the new Babylonian society, the council of the temple, which carried out judicial functions, included representatives of the people's assemblies of cities in whose territory the sanctuaries were located.

For its part, the strengthening of the ruler's power in the Sumerian cities was facilitated by the presence of their rulers of a certain military force, which initially consisted of persons dependent on the temple or personally from its ruler. The creation of a standing army, a comparison of it to the public militia, was an important evidence of the strengthening of the power of the ruler.

The conversion of Sargon into the ruler of a powerful country was largely promoted by the permanent army, which he created from the landless farmers-communists who received an additional allotment for their service from the lands of the ruler. Sargon himself claimed that he had a permanent army, which counted 5,400 soldiers.

With Hammurabi occurred a final parting of the standing army from a communal land ownership. The warrior (rehdum, bairum) receives an allotment of the land of the ruler, who supplies not only him, but also his family. The military allotments were completely excluded from circulation, every transaction concerning the land of the warrior was considered insignificant. Even having been captured, the soldier retained the right to land allotment, the right of his young son was retained for part of the plot. If the soldier left an allotment for the sake of getting rid of the service, he did not lose the right to him for a year, provided he returned to his duties.

In order to strengthen combat effectiveness and discipline in the army, the laws of Hammurabi brutally ordered to punish soldiers who violated the order of the ruler to march, as well as military chiefs (decum and lubuttum), who used for their own purposes the property of a soldier or who gave him a lease.

The service of the warrior was considered "eternal". Unlike Babylon in Assyria, if the warrior was sufficiently wealthy, he could send his deputy-substitute from the poor citizens. He gave his obligation to supply food for his deputy, provided that his family will work for him. This system of "patronage" witnessed the ruin of farmers, which deepened in Assyria.

Professional soldiers also performed police duties in Babylon.

In the meantime, the public militia, which was convened during major military campaigns, remained in its significance. In addition to archers and heavily armed infantry, a special place was given to the chariot troops. Ancient Babylonian sources, for example, report that their commanders were rewarded by the ruler for military prowess for the military valor, were exempt from taxes and other duties.

6. The Hammurabi Code (Laws)

The support and development of such a powerful country presupposed the existence of a new clear, evenly weighed and perfect legislation that would take into account the relations between all citizens of the country, provide them with adequate protection and appropriate privileges, encourage compliance with it and be enforceable, and also provide an opportunity for its control and a quick and indisputable solution to human disputes.

In the beginning, historians had no proof of the existence of such laws.

The veil of this legal secret was raised by archaeologists and historians who carried out archaeological research in Mesopotamia.

In 1901, the French archaeological expedition, digging the Susa region in Elam (east of Babylon), discovered a basalt column, covered with cuneiform on all sides. This unique find was the discovery of the oldest code of laws on earth. It was composed under the authority of Hammurabi, the ruler of Babylon, in the eighteenth century BC.

These were the so-called "Hammurabi Code", about which the author of the article said earlier.

Analyzing the Code of Hammurabi, we can conclude that the ancient law of Sumer, which had its origin from the legislative activity of the kings of the III dynasty of Ur, became unacceptable for the Babylonian supreme authority.

The need for a new set of laws for his country was already realized by the second ruler of the 1st Babylonian dynasty Sumulail, whose laws are mentioned in the documents of his successors.

In turn, the ruler of Hammurabi with his legislation tried to formalize and consolidate the social structure of the country, the dominant force in which should be formed by small and medium slaveholders. A great importance Hammurabi gave to his legislative activity is seen from the fact that he started it at the very beginning of his reign; the 2nd year of his reign was called the year when "he established the right of the country".

True, this is the first collection of laws that has not reached us, and the Code of Hammurabi known to science refer to the end of his reign.

These laws were immortalized on a large black basalt column.

The monument was well preserved in general. Only the articles of the last columns of the front side were erased. Obviously, this was done at the behest of the Elam ruler, who, after his invasion of Mesopotamia, transported this monument from Babylonia to Susa, where it was found.

Based on the traces that have been preserved, it can be proved that 35 articles were inscribed on the scraped-up site, and in total there are 282 articles on the monument.

Given the various copies found in the ancient libraries of Nineveh, Nippur, Babylon and other cities that have been uncovered, one can recover most of the articles of the laws destroyed by the Elamite conqueror.

It is necessary to note a new approach in the creation and establishment of legal norms at this stage.

For the first time, there was made an attempt to create a single uniformed a regulatory legal document of higher power and common use for the whole country, to be an understandable and accessible, on the principle of an official publication, for the entire population. And this fact brings the Hammurabi Code in its scale and progressiveness to the rank of the most significant documents in the history of law.

At the top of the front side of the pillar with the laws is the ruler standing before the sun god Shamash - the patron of the court. Under the ruler's relief of profile, a text of the laws is inscribed, filling all the sides of the pillar.

The text is divided into three parts. The first part is an introduction in which Hammurabi declares that the gods have given him the country, so, that a strong one would not repress the weak one.

Then follows the list of blessings that Hammurabi made to the cities of his country. Among them are the cities of the far south, led by Larsus, and also cities along the middle coast of the Euphrates and Tigris - Mari, Ashur, Nineveh and others. Consequently, the basalt pillar with the laws of Hammurabi was erected by him after the victory over Rimsin and the subordination of the countries located along the middle flow of the Euphrates and the Tiger, that is, in the early 30s of his reign. Probably, the copies of the laws were made for all major cities of his country.

The content of the introduction again repeats itself with the Urukagini and Ur-Namm laws, especially with regard to the establishment of order and justice, which once again emphasizes the fact that there have been constant changes in the time of concepts of human rights and freedoms, including those related to the class difference in the population countries:

“When Marduk sent me to manage people and to establish prosperity in the country, I laid the truth and justice in the mouth of the country, favoring the flesh of people.”

After the introduction, articles of laws follow, which in turn end with the main conclusion.

The Hammurabi Code cover numerous legal issues of the contemporary Babylonian society.

The first 5 articles (the numbering of articles is established by modern scientists) are devoted to the issues of legal proceedings.

Articles 6-13 define the punishment for theft and indicate ways to establish theft.

Articles 14-20 are directed against the theft of children and slaves and against the harboring of fugitive slave. Here, the size of the reward for catching a fugitive slave is set.

Articles 21-25 deal with a variety of cases of robbery.

Articles 26-41 regulate the duties and rights of soldiers, with particular attention to the issues of their land tenure.

Articles 42-47 define the rights and duties of land renters.

The next five articles (48-52) set the limits of the usury's right to harvest the field that was pledged to him.

Articles 53-56 impose a penalty for negligent use of the irrigation network.

Articles 57-58 protect the owners’ fields from damage caused by cattle herds.

Articles 59-66 address various issues related to the ownership of gardens, including the question of the right of the usurer to harvest his debtor's garden.

The following articles, which were contained in the destroyed columns of the inscription, were partly devoted to the issues of ownership of houses and building sites, partly to various kinds of usury.

They are adhered to articles 100-107, which talk about merchants-tamkars and their assistants.

Inns, which were at the same time and denominations, are discussed in articles 108-111.

The articles 112-126 are devoted to the right of storage and the debt law related to securing the loan of persons by members of the debtor's family.

A very large place (articles 127-195) is occupied by family law.

The department, containing articles 196-225, sets the size of punishment for bodily injuries.

Articles 226 and 227 protect the slaveholder from deliberately destroying the brand of the slave who belonged to him.

Issues related to the work of architects and shipbuilders deal in articles 228-235.

All kinds of hiring are detailed in articles 236-277.

The final articles contain decisions on slaves.

The laws of Hammurabi, like the laws of Ishin, Larsa and Eshnunna, contain no indications of the intervention of the gods.

The only exceptions are articles 2 and 132, permitting the use of the so-called "God's judgment" in relation to a person accused of witchcraft, or to a married woman accused of adultery.

The Code of King Hammurabi should be recognized as one of the most significant monuments of the legal thought of the ancient Eastern society. This is the first comprehensive collection of laws known to us in the world history, covering the slave system, private property and other relations in the country.

Studying the Hammurabi Code, with account of letters of the rulers and private letters that have made it till now, as well as the private legal documents of that time makes it possible to determine the social structure of Babylonia.

First of all, it is necessary to understand that the supreme ruler, by imposing severe punishments, protected the slaveholders from the "adamant" slave.

In addition, responsibility was established for bodily harm inflicted to another's slave, and also in relation to a livestock, compensation of damages to its owner.

Guilty of killing a slave gave another slave in return to his master. Slaves, like livestock, could be sold without any restrictions. The family status of the slave was not taken into account. When selling the slaves, the law took care only to protect the buyer from cheating by the seller. Legislation protected slave owners from stealing slaves and from harboring fugitive slaves. The death penalty threatened not only the one who stole, but also the one who covered the slave. A cruel punishment threatened also for the destruction of the brand sign of slavery on the slave. In a separate slaveholding family there were usually from 2 to 5 slaves, but cases were recorded when the number of slaves reached several dozen. Private legal documents speak about the most various operations connected with slaves: purchase, donation, me, hiring and transfer under the will. Slaves were replenished under Hammurabi from the "criminals", from the prisoners of war, and also bought in neighboring areas. The average price of a slave was 150-250 grams of silver.

In addition, the Hammurabi Laws took for granted the fact that people are not the same in their legal ability to secure their rights and duties in relation to the supreme ruler and relations with each other.

For the purpose, the law either took into account such difference, or was determined specifically in individual cases - after all, the legal system of society was class based.

Although, of course, there were no strict distinct lines between the categories of people, and all of them, to a greater or lesser extent, had legal ability both in the field of property and personal rights.

Completely full-fledged person (subject of law), from the point of view of law, was considered an independent so-called male-master, head of the patriarchal family. He could belong to the category of free community members, be the owner of a dedicated public land and own all the rights that exist with respect to property, family relations.

Such man was called Avilum by law ("man", "son of a husband").

Another category, full-fledged and free people in general, was the Mushken ("falling flat", "beat the forehead", that is, the one who service); They were the owners of land plots transferred to them under certain conditions (state) fund of the ruler.

Avilum was mainly subject to customary law, and laws regulated only common or very peculiar situations for all of them.

Mushkenu (Mushkenum) was an object of special care and protection of the ruler's justice.

On the conditional social stairs, they stood somewhat apart from avilum: laws assessed their property "cheaper", with possible injuries, mutual insults.

However, the land property of the Mushkenum was guarded on a par with the temple and the palace one, they paid only a third of the amount that was due to full-time community members in the event of a divorce the wife.

Such differences were privileges at the same time.

Probably, this was due to the fact that the Mushkenum broke away from the community and acted solely as individual peasants, while Avilum kept in touch with the community and could count on the support of neighbors and relatives in the event of conflicts.

In other words, one can say these two categories of free people (avilum and mushkenum) in property relations are protected by Hammurabi Code in most cases in the same way, but their bodily injuries are assessed in different ways.

Paragraph 15 may serve as a confirmation that the laws of Hammurabi protect the property of these two categories of equally free:

"If a man takes a man-slave or a woman-slave out of the city gate, or the man-slave of the Mushkenum, or the woman-slave of the Mushkenum, he must be killed."

The Avilum property is not mentioned in this article, but it must be understood that the laws of King Hammurabi are among the first codifications (records) of the customary law of the population, according to which the Avilum property at that time had the same legal status as the property of the palace. Therefore, obviously, the legislator did not begin to write it separately on the basalt stela.

Thus, we see that for stealing a slave who can belong to a palace (and hence the ruler and avilum); and the mushkenum, the thief had to be killed anyway.

In turn, as to other property, there’s a difference between Avilum and Mushkenum:

"§8. If a person steals an ox, or a sheep, or an donkey, or a pig, or a boat, then if it's God’s or if it's palace’s, he can refund it 30 times, and if it belongs to the Mushkenum, he can compensate it 10 times of the amount; If the thief does not have anything to give, he must be killed."

This paragraph slightly tarnished the illusion of equal protection of the property of Avilum and Mushkenum, proposed in § 15 of the Hammurabi Code.

This can be explained very simply.

As we already know, Mushkenum is not a member of the community. He is free, but he does not have his own land and tools of production, which means he must rent it all from the palace or the temple. Temples and palaces also rented slaves.

That is, the theft of the property of the Mushkenum, in most cases, was the theft of property from a palace or a temple.

In this regard, the legislator was primarily protecting not so much the property of the Mushkenum, but the property rights of a person who gave this property to the Mushkenum, namely, the palace and the temple.

This creates the illusion of the legal equality of Avilum and Mushkenum.

In turn, as shown in the above paragraph of the law, the property that belonged to the Mushkenum (that is, it was his own property) was worth twenty times cheaper for a thief than the property of an avilum.

In addition, the provisions of § 8 of the laws indicate the formalization of law in the laws of Hammurabi, because they list all the possible animals for theft: a sheep, a sheep, a donkey and a pig.

The legislator could replace that list with a concept, for example, such as a pet, but struggling with the arbitrariness of judges in the courts, he didn’t do it.

The court verdicts in Babylon in the minds of people were associated with the idea of justice. The goddess of justice Kittu was considered the daughter of the all-powerful god of the Sun Shamash, with special temples dedicated to her. However, the Babylonian judges often abused their positions. This is evidenced, in particular, by § 5 of the laws of Hammurabi, which provides for punishment for the judge, who changed his decision after it was written in a special document on a clay tablet with a seal. It is characteristic that such a judge who was guilty should have been "taken from his judicial seat" and deprived of the right to send justice not by the ruler, but by public gatherings. I quote verbatim § 5 of the Laws of Hammurabi:

"If a judge judges a case, decides a decision, produces a document with a seal, and then changes his decision, that judge should be convicted of changing the decision, and he must pay the amount of the claim brought in this case, 12 times, And must also be picked up from his seat in the meeting and must not return and sit with the judges at the trial."

Specially to make judges judge in court not according to the law of customs, the features of which were known only to them, committing arbitrariness, but by the law, written down and all known, - there was a need to record such a right of customs.

This fact adds additional respect to the laws of Hammurabi, which at the legislative level first tried to avoid or to reduce judicial arbitrariness. However, it must be understood that from that time to the present, this problem has not been fully resolved in a single country in the world.

In the distant past there were orders for punishment for bodily harm according to the norm "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth". Legislation of King Hammurabi extended the application of this principle regarding the doctor for damage in case of unsuccessful operation and to the builder for bad construction, and also distinguished responsibility for the crime according to the social status of the person.

For example:

"§ 196. If a person injures the eye of one of the people, then his eye must be damaged.

§ 197. If he breaks the bone of a person, then it must break his bone.


§ 200. If a person kills the tooth of a person equal to himself, then his tooth should be knocked out. "

From these paragraphs we see that when a person deals bodily injuries to a person equal to him in legal status, then a talion appears in relation to him.

Talion is a criminal sanction of Hammurabi's laws, which requires: "Oculum pro Oculo Denten pro Dente!", That is, in fact, - cause him the same damage as he did to you.

The legislator of that time considered the use of talion as the highest justice, although this is a very superficial view, as evidenced by the following:

"§ 229. If a builder builds a house for a man and does his job unreliably so that the house built by him collapses and causes death to the owner of the house, then this builder must be killed."

In this case, it seems that everything is fair, although without preconception,

However, the text of the following paragraph tells us that the talion is guilty of  punishing of the innocent:

"§ 230. If he causes death to the son of the master of the house, he must kill the son of this builder."

As we understand, the son of the builder did not take part in the construction of this collapsed house, which killed the son of his master, but according to the talon, he is scheduled to die.

At the same time, one must understand that here we mean only free and equal people - avilum, but not the slaves, because the slave master was responsible for the actions of his slaves, and in most cases - in monetary form.

Also, it is unlikely that the abstraction "man" could take into account the Mushkenum, since other paragraphs of the laws, in the relations between the Avilum and the Mushkenum, have established a different responsibility:

"§ 198. If he hurts the eye of the Mushkenum or breaks the bone of the Mushkenum, then he must pay the weigh 1 mine of silver."

"§ 201. If he kills the tooth from the Mushkenum, he must weigh 1/3 of the mine of silver."

Thus, in Avilum, with bodily injuries to the Mushkenum, there is no criminal sanction of the talion, but only a fine.

In this regard, we can assume that for all that Hammurabi promised to protect the weak from encroachments of the strong, what he actually does, he does it differentially.

And it is natural for that time - not all equally, but it protects!

Considering that this problem exists today, what can be the claim to Hammurabi, who lived 2 thousand years before our era.

The legal status of the tamkar and the peasant is very interesting, they go hand in hand in the laws of Hammurabi, and could not be otherwise, since the whole population of Mesopotamia was involved in farming.

We should understand that Avilum and Mushkenum were mostly ordinary peasants - one was more successful, while the other was not.

In turn, the legislator of that time was not only a lawyer, but also an economist. He took care of the economy to work.

So, how to make it work? A peasant horse, buffalo died, where to get another one, how to sow, how to collect, how to pay for rent, and so on. It is necessary to borrow. And who will lend?

The laws of Hammurabi envisaged this situation, and the legislator of that time, realizing that what grows on the land of the peasants to be a food for the population of the country, gives guarantees to the usurer and to a tamkar who should lend, being not afraid that he it will not be paid back.

Without such guarantees, the tamkar will cease to lend, which means that the economic life in Babylonia will stop. At the same time, there is no debt slavery in the laws of Hammurabi, that is, it was impossible to become a slave for the debts that were not returned, as it was in the societies of Mesopotamia and, on the contrary, much later in the supposedly more democratic countries Athens, Rome and others - the debt was paid by labour:

"§ 117. If a person has a debt and returns it for silver or gives away to debt bondage his wife, his son, or his daughter, then they must serve in the house of their buyer or lender 3 years: for the fourth year they must be released."

These provisions testify to Hammurabi's desire to protect his power through the protection of free peasants, who constituted the bulk of the country's subordinate population.

Pay attention to the fact that the number of years that the debtor will work off, is established not by a tamkar and usurer, but by the law - 3 years.

The question arises: who established that the debtor must work off his debt for 3 years on the tamkar farm, why, for example, not 2 or 5 years, namely 3 years?

According to the author of the article, this is due to the fact that the size of the debt was usually small, since they borrowed money to buy a horse to replace the deceased one, or get grain to sow its plot. Moreover, in a small amount of debt, both sides were interested, both as a tamkar and as a debtor (and this could be not only the peasant).

In addition, a clearly defined limit for the payment of a debt that could not be exceeded was limited to a tamkar in the desire to provide a larger loan and earn more income - in fact, he did not lend more than debtors could work for him.

At the same time, the laws of Hammurabi carefully guarded the lives of those who will work off the debt from the tamcar, as evidenced by the following:

"§ 116. If the person taken as a pledge dies in the house against beatings or ill-treatment, the host of the person must denounce his tamkar; If the one taken as a pledge is a son of a man, then his son must be killed, if he is a slave of a man, a weigh of 1/3 of silver mine to be paid, and also to lose everything he lend."

Thus, in the debt relations of Avilum in relation to the tamcar, the norm of talion was established.

At the same time, Hammurabi's laws stated a maximum interest rate under loan treaties of no more than 20% for money loan and not more than 33% for a grain loan:

"(The article is most likely 89, but it is not possible to establish precisely, since the text was partially destroyed). If the tamcar grain or silver gave rise to growth, then for 1 curu (hur) he can take 100 force of grain growth as a percentage - if silver was given in growth, then for 1 shekel of silver it can take 1/6 of the shekel and 6 of growth ".

Thus, the laws of Hammurabi protect the peasant from the arbitrariness of the tamkar, to whom the laws of Hammurabi themselves, without his will, set the maximum interest under the loan agreements.

However, in practice, these limitations were difficult to verify, because in real life, as in modern times, a moneylender can generally refuse to lend anything legally, and demand more from the debtor than the law provides. In turn, the debtor, for the sake of survival, will have to agree with the terms of the usurer, despite the fact that they are illegal.

Another category of population of the Hammurabi country were the soldiers - rehdum, bairum (literally "horse-driver" and "catcher", but the meaning of the differences is not exactly known).

For their military service to the ruler, they were allocated of land (usually up to 12 hectares), where agriculture was conducted, under certain conditions (ilk - so called their land use).

The law obliged the soldiers strictly to fulfill the main condition - to be in service: if the soldier refused to go on a campaign, he was expected to be executed:

"§26. If rehdum or bairum, who is ordered to march on the royal campaign, will not go or, will hire a mercenary to send him instead himself, then this rebudum or bairum must be killed; The one hired by him can take his house."

At the same time, the law not only obliges, but also protects the property of soldiers, in particular with respect to inheritance in case of their captivity - the allotment could be inherited in the family if there was a son, even a minor, who could later serve:

"§28. If redum or bairum is taken prisoner while in the royal service, and his son can be on duty, then he must be given a field and a garden, and he will bear the duty of his father."

Regulated laws and relations in the event of the return of a warrior from captivity:

Ǥ27. If rehdum or bairum is taken prisoner while in the royal service, and after him his field and garden will be given to another and he will carry his military service, then if he returns and reaches his settlement, he must return his field and garden to him, and he will carry his own duties."

These provisions indicate that Hammurabi cared for the strength of his army.

Besides that:

"§ 135. If a man is taken prisoner and there are no means of subsistence in his house, and therefore his wife will enter another's house and have children, and then her husband will return and reach his community, this woman must return to her first husband : children follow their fathers."

Moreover, the property and allotments given to the warrior on the right of ilk remained with him for life, and under no circumstances could they be bought or taken away for debts:

"§ 35. If a person buys large or small cattle, which the ruler gave the redum, he loses his silver.

§ 36. The field, the garden and the house of reduma, the bairum or what brings profit can’t be given for silver.

§ 37. If a person buys a field, a garden or a house of redum, a bairum or an income-earner, then his tablet must be broken, and he also loses his silver. The field, the garden and the house are returned to their master, and any monetary transactions on them are generally considered void."

Also, the laws took into account the indifference of the soldier to the property that was provided to him:

"§ 30. If rehdum or bairum leaves his field due to the burden of his service, the garden and the house are absent, and after him the other will take his field, the garden and the house and will bear his duty for 3 years, if he comes back and demands his field, his garden and house, should not give them back to him. He who accepted them and carried his duty will himself bear it."

The warriors who abandoned their land were in fact regarded as soldiers who were in a long unauthorized dismissal, and the ruler could not wait more than a year (as at any time a new military campaign could begin):

"§ 31. If he is absent only one year and returns, he must get him his field, the garden and the house, and he himself will bear his duty."

At the same time, the laws strictly protected the property of soldiers from abuse of military commanders, who were waiting for death for attempts to appropriate the property of a warrior:

"§ 34. If the decum or lubuttum takes the redum's belongings, harms redum, gives a redum for hire, betrays a decision at the trial of the strongest, or takes a gift given to reduma by the ruler, then this decum or lubuttum must be killed."

The specified norm of the laws of Hammurabi strengthened the fighting spirit and justice in the troops of the king, made his army very combat-ready, which in turn is historically proved by his great conquests.

As for slaves, basically they were considered at the level with property that can be sold without any restrictions.

However, at the same time, the slaves were also given rights and were protected, as human property was protected.

For example, slaves of Avilums could marry a free one, and their children from this marriage were considered free:

"§ 175. If either the slave of the palace or the slave of Mushkenum marries the daughter of a man and she gives birth to children, the slave's master can not make claims to the children of the person's daughter about turning them into slavery."

In addition, in the case of inflicting bodily injuries to a slave, there was a monetary responsibility that was established according to market conditions:

"§ 199. If he (man) injures the eye of a slave of man or breaks the bone of a slave of a man, he must weigh half of his purchase price.


§ 213. If he strikes the woman-slave of man and will cause of the miscarriage of her fetus, he must weighed 2 shekels of silver.

§ 214. If she slave dies, he must pay weigh of 1/3 mine of silver."

In ordinary cases, according to the laws of Hammurabi, only a slave could be born from a slave.

However, the ruler always had a need for new subordinates, who next could become warriors or Mushkenum. Most likely, for this purpose, the laws have interestingly determined the status of a child born of a slave as a result of sexual relations with her master:

"§ 170. If to a man his wife has children and his slave will also give him children and the father, in his lifetime, will tell the children whom the slave gave to him:"My children", will rank them among the children of the spouse, then after the father leaves to fate , The children of the spouse and the children of the slave should share the heritage of the father's house among themselves; The heir, the son of the spouse, in the division must choose and take his part first.

Thus, we see that Hammurabi not only did not limit the sexual relations between the owners and their slaves, but, on the contrary, encouraged such relations on the part of the slave, because it enabled her and her children to become free in the course of time.

In turn, such conditions of the law, also, were restrained in the desire for sexual relations with the slaves of that master who did not want to free the slaves and divide the inheritance between the children of the slave.


In addition, already in those days knew that sometimes a wife can not give birth to a child from her husband due to some illness. In this case, to obtain an heir, the owner could use relations with the slave.

As a slave she proved the fact of the birth of children from her master, we do not know, but, apparently, everyone knew about this in the community.


This fact makes Hammurabi's laws not only progressive and economically justified for the time of history, but also more democratic and civilized (if this word can be applied at all to the slave system) than laws that were published much later in Roman law and even in medieval Europe.

In fact, in comparison to modern law, it can be said that the laws of Hammurabi were a kind of symbiosis of the constitution, civil and criminal codes, with some elements of bureaucracy.


However, in the 17th century BC, the new forces appeared on the borders of Mesopotamia, first of all the Hurrites and the Hittites.

Hurriti (tribes of the Armenian highland) penetrated into Upper Mesopotamia from the end of the 3rd millennium BC, and approximately in 1680 BC they captured it all and widely dispersed along the countries of the Fertile Crescent.

The Hittites (people of perhaps of Indo-European origin) first appeared in Anatolia (modern Turkey) in 1900 BC, and by 1650 BC they had a powerful ancient Hittite country already created.

When in 1595 BC, the Hittite ruler Mursilis raided Babylon and plundered him, the Hammurabi dynasty fell, and for Mesopotamia a "dark century" came.

With the fall of Babylon, the principles of law defined by the laws of Hammurabi were destroyed, and for a while were replaced by Hittite legislation, based on regional basis, when the ruler of each land had its own legislation, and only in the case of military operations the sole right of the supreme ruler was applied.

Later, around 1590 BC, kassities (natives of the mountains of Zagros), who had lived before in Mesopotamia, seized the supreme power in Babylon and founded the Kassite dynasty (rules in Babylon around 1590-1155 BC).

In turn, after the defeat of the Hittite Babylon, the north of Mesopotamia was captured and controlled by the country of Mitani, sometimes subordinating all of Asia Minor and Syria for two centuries.

Mitani was founded by a dynasty of Indo-Aryan origin, which in about 1550 BC achieved power over the Hurrites of Upper Mesopotamia, settling here in the early 17th century BC.

When the expansion of the Mytanians spread to the Levant (part of the Fertile Crescent that lies along the Mediterranean), they collided with the Egyptians.

Under Thutmose I (approximately 1504-1492 BC), Egypt defeated Mitani and placed the entire Levant under control, and also established its authority over the Euphrates. The consequence of such expansion of Egypt was the adoption of many aspects of the law of ancient Mesopotamia (evidenced both by the orders of Pharaoh Akhenaten, and the following principles of building the state under Ramses II).

In the beginning, the Egyptians were unable to maintain such a large territory, and in the next century Mitani repeatedly restored its power over the northern part of the Levant, throwing the Egyptians into Palestine.

However, later, after losing the war to Thutmose III (the greatest Egyptian conqueror), and later, during the reign of Thutmose IV (approximately 1412-1402 BC), Egypt and Mitani became allies.

The offer of peace, most likely, came from Mitani, which was faced with the growth of the power of the Hittites in the north and the gradual restoration of the forces of Assyria in the east.

However, under Akhenaten (about 1365 - 1348 BC), Egypt concentrated on its internal affairs, and Mitani remained without an ally.

The Hittite ruler Supilulium I (approximately 1380-1336 BC) at the early stage of his rule approved the Hittite power in Anatolia, and then, approximately in 1355 BC, raided the Mytani capital of Vashikani, then moved to the Levant and conquered the Mitani possessions to the west of the Euphrates. Mitani began to fall apart, and when, about 1338 BC, Supilulium attacked it again, the western part of Mitani was captured by the Hittites and turned into a puppet country under the authority of one of the Mitani vassals-rulers (the eastern part went to Assyria). Supilulium hoped that this state would serve as a buffer against Assyria, but later it repeatedly captured Mitani, going to the Euphrates.

During four wars for Mitani, the Hittites actually destroyed this country, but brought upon themselves the hostility of Egypt, which was an ally of Mitani.

During the weak rule of Akhenaten and his son Tutankhamun, Supilulium displaced the Egyptians from Asia (around 1337 BC).

However, around 1307 BC a new dynasty came to power in Egypt, eager to restore the Egyptian positions in Levant.

By 1290 BC, the Egyptians returned Canaan, and in 1285 before the era of Pharaoh Ramses II (ruled in 1290-1224 BC) began a major invasion of the Hittite possessions.

The Hittite ruler Muwatalis II (ruled around 1306-1278 BC) prepared for the war, and in the battle of Kadesh Ramzes could not win (although he proclaimed victory in Egypt).

The Egyptians retreated, and the Hittite rule spread to the south as far as Damascus.

Relations between the two states remained hostile until 1278 BC, when the Hittites, concerned about the power of Assyria, which was constantly growing, signed peace with Egypt.

Thus, in 1278 BC the peace was made and the first international agreement between the pharaoh of the XIX dynasty of Ramses II and the Hittite ruler Hattushil III (Hattusili III) was signed.

The initiative of peace and friendly agreement came from the Hittite ruler.

After long initial negotiations, Hattushil sent Ramses a draft agreement, inscribed on a silver tablet. To authenticate the document on the front side of the board was the image of the ruler, the wind, standing next to the god, and the lightning Teshub. On the reverse side, the queen is represented next to the sun goddess Arinna.


Ramzes accepted the peace conditions offered to him by the Hittite ruler, and as his sign of accord, sent Hattushil another silver plaque with the text of the peace treaty inscribed on it. Both copies were sealed with state seal and signatures.

The treaty was preserved in three editions (inscriptions) - two Egyptian (one of them - in Karnak, stenciled on the wall of the inner courtyard of the temple, opposite the wall on which the conquests of Thutmose III are designated) and one Hittite, found in Bogaz-Kei.

Both the text of the treaty itself and the descriptions of the preceding negotiations  have survived till our days.

The treaty consists of three parts:

1) Introduction,

2) Text of the contract articles,

3) Conclusion - appeals to the gods, vows and curses against the violator of the treaty.

The introduction says that from time immemorial the Hittites and Egyptians were not enemies. Relations between them worsened only in the days of the sad rule of brother Hattushil, when he fought with Ramses, the great ruler of Egypt.

From the day of signing this "perfect treaty" between rulers peace, friendship and brotherhood are established for ever:

"After I became the ruler of Hittites, I am with the great ruler of Egypt, Ramses, and he is with me in peace and brotherhood. It will be a better world and a brotherhood of those that ever existed on earth. "

"May there be a wonderful peace and brotherhood between the children of the children of the great ruler of the Hittites and Ramses, the great ruler of Egypt. Egypt and the country of the Hittites are, like us, in peace and brotherhood for all time. "

Between the Hittites and Egypt was a friendly defensive and offensive military alliance:

"If any enemy goes against the possessions of Ramses, then let Ramses tell the great ruler of the Hittites: go with me against him with all your strength."

The treaty provided support against the enemy not only external, but also internal. The allies guaranteed each other assistance in case of insurrections and mutinies in their subordinate areas. These were mainly the Asian (Syrian-Palestinian) areas, in which wars, insurrections, robber raids and looting did not cease:

"If Ramses gets angry with his slaves (Asian subjects), when they make an uprising, and go to pacify them, then the Hittite ruler must act with him."

A special article provided for reciprocal extradition of political defectors of noble and ignorant origin:

"If anyone escapes from Egypt and leaves for the country of the Hittites, then the Hittite ruler will not detain him in his country, but will return to the country of Ramses."

Together with the defectors, all their property and people return in full:

"If one, two, three, and so on man escapes from the Egyptian land to the land of the Hittites, then they must be returned to the land of Ramses"

"And they were not executed, and their eyes, mouth and legs will not hurt."

In witnesses to the accuracy and accuracy of the treaty, the rulers called on the gods and goddesses of both countries:

"Everything written on a silver plaque, a thousand gods and goddesses of the country of the Hittites, is committed to fulfill in relation to the thousand gods and goddesses of Egypt. They are witnesses of my words. "

Then follows a long list of Egyptian and Hittite gods and goddesses:

"Gods and goddesses of mountains and rivers of the country Egypt, heaven and earth, sea, wind and storms."

For violation of the contract threatened a terrible punishment, and for its fair performance the gods bestowed health and prosperity:

"Let the house, the earth and the slaves of the one who breaks these words perish." And the health and life of the earth and the slaves of those who preserve them will be. "

The exchange of diplomatic letters and embassies continued after the conclusion of the "perfect treaty".

Not only rulers exchanged letters, but also their wives did. The Egyptian and Hittite rulers expressed joy to each other about the "beautiful peace" and "beautiful brotherhood" that came between the two powerful dynasties.

The union between the Hittites and Egypt was cemented by a dynastic marriage - the marriage of Ramses on the beautiful daughter of Hattushil. The new wife of the great ruler of Egypt was solemnly met at the border of both countries.

At the feast arranged in honor of her arrival, a banquet meal was offered to the Egyptian and Hittite warriors.

In turn, for the history of international law and diplomacy, the agreement between Ramses and Khattushil is of principal importance.

Firstly, it is the oldest known monument of international law.

Secondly, it served in its form as a model of all subsequent treaties, both for the countries of the Ancient East, and for Greece and Rome.

At the same time, the form of the international treaty basically remained unchanged throughout the history of the ancient world.

Greece and Rome, in this respect, copied the ancient Eastern treaty practice.

At the same time, in the agreement of Ramses-Hattushil the characteristic feature of the arrangement of the countries of the Ancient East of those times – reflecting a complete identification of the country with the personality of the supreme power bearer. All negotiations were conducted exclusively on behalf of the supreme ruler.

Later Assyrian expansion began at Ashur-Ubaliti I (1353-1318 BC), which marked the end of first stage of the evolution of law, which was based on the principles created by the ancient Sumerian societies.

Parallel to this, Egyptian law developed, which borrowed some elements from Sumerian law, and some from the system of organization of society among the Hittite peoples, but this will be discussed separately in another article.

Managing Partner of the Law Firm "FOX" Vladimir Marinich