On a recent trip to Paris, I visited the Louvre to see (among other works of art) their famous carving of The Code Of Hammurabi, a well-preserved ancient Babylonian law code dating back to 1792 BC. It was enacted by King Hammurabi, who ruled Babylon from 1796 to 1750 BC.
Today, partial copies exist on various clay tablets. The Louvre has the only nearly complete copy of the Code, on a diorite stele, in the shape of a huge (7.4 feet) index finger. It is inscribed in the Akkadian language of the common people, using cuneiform script carved into the stele.
The Code consists of 282 laws, covering a wide range of activities. Punishments were scaled, adjusting “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” depending on the nature of the offense and the status of the individuals involved. You may find the part of the Code dealing with construction particularly interesting:
“If a builder builds a house for a man and does not make its construction firm and the house collapses and causes the death of the owner of the house – that builder shall be put to death. If it causes the death of a son of the owners – they shall put to death a son of the builder. If it causes the death of a slave of the owner – he shall give to the owner a slave of equal value. If it destroys property – he shall restore whatever it destroyed and because he did not make the house firm he shall rebuild the house which collapsed at his own expense. If a builder builds a house and does not make its construction meet the requirements and a wall falls in – that builder shall strengthen the wall at his own expense.”
The laws may have discouraged early aspiring contractors from entering the business!
– contributed by Ken Wiedemann, President of United Tile