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Posted by Fredsvenn den februar 28, 2008
Hammurabi’s Code – The First Written Codes of Law
Hamurabi is known for the set of laws called Hammurabi’s Code, one of the first written codes of law in recorded history. These laws were written on a stone tablet standing over six feet tall that was found in 1901. Owing to his reputation in modern times as an ancient law-giver, Hammurabi’s portrait is in many government buildings throughout the world.
While the precise date of Hammurabi’s Code of Laws is disputed by scholars, it is generally believed to have been written between the second year of his reign, circa 1727 BCE, and the end of his reign, circa 1780 BCE, predating the Hebrew «Ten Commandments» by about 500 years.
Perhaps the single most striking feature of Hammurabi’s Code is its commitment to protection of the weak from being brutalized by the strong. He believed that he had been ordained by his gods Anu (God of the Sky) and Bel (The Lord of Heaven and Earth, the God of Destiny) to establish the rule of law and justice over his people.
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If a chieftain or a man leave his house, garden, and field and hires it out, and some one else takes possession of his house, garden, and field and uses it for three years: if the first owner return and claims his house, garden, and field, it shall not be given to him, but he who has taken possession of it and used it shall continue to use it.
If he hire it out for one year and then return, the house, garden, and field shall be given back to him, and he shall take it over again.
The First Declaration of Human Rights
One of the significant events in ancient history is the conquest of Babylon by the Persian king, Cyrus the Great, and the Cyrus cylinder.
On October 4th, 539 BC, the Persian Army entered the city of Babylon, which was then the capital of the Babylonian state (in central Iraq). This was a bloodless campaign and no prisoners were taken. Later, on November 9th, King Cyrus of Persia visited the city. Babylonian history tells us that Cyrus was greeted by the people, who spread a pathway of green twigs before him as a sign of honor and peace (sulmu). Cyrus greeted all Babylonians in peace and brought peace to their city.
On this great event, Cyrus issued a declaration, inscribed on a clay barrel known as Cyrus’s inscription cylinder. It was discovered in 1879 by Hormoz Rassam in Babylon and today is kept in the British Museum. Many historians have reviewed it as the first declaration of human rights.
The Charter of Cyrus the Great, a baked-clay Aryan language (Old Persian) cuneiform cylinder, was discovered in 1878 in excavation of the site of Babylon. In it, Cyrus the Great described his human treatment of the inhabitants of Babylonia after its conquest by the Iranians. The document has been hailed as the first charter of human rights, and in 1971 the United Nations was published translation of it in all the official U.N. languages. «May Ahura Mazda protect this land, this nation, from rancor, from foes, from falsehood, and from drought». Selected from the book «The Eternal Land».
I am Cyrus. King of the world. When I entered Babylon… I did not allow anyone to terrorise the land… I kept in view the needs of Babylon and all its sanctuaries to promote their well-being… I put an end to their misfortune.
From The First Charter of the Rights of Nations
Cyrus, The Great, 539 B.C. Founder of The First Persian Empire