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Philosophy before the GreeksThe Pursuit of Truth in Ancient Babylonia$
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Marc Van De Mieroop

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780691157184

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691157184.001.0001

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Of Ancient Codes

Of Ancient Codes

(p.143) Chapter 6 Of Ancient Codes
Philosophy before the Greeks

Marc Van De Mieroop

Princeton University Press

This chapter focuses on the genre of law codes in ancient Mesopotamia. Hammurabi authored—or more likely commissioned—one of the earliest surviving law codes in world history. Hammurabi’s code is part of a small corpus of ancient Near East writings about law that was founded on the principles contained in lexical and omen lists. The law codes of the ancient Near East show how aspects of Babylonian epistemology could be imitated by others even if they did not employ the Babylonian writing system that lay at its core. The chapter first considers the historical context of the law codes before discussing the format of these laws. The composition of law codes flourished in Babylonia in the late third and early second millennia, when four kings commissioned them: Ur-Namma and Lipit-Eshtar in the Sumerian language, Dadusha and Hammurabi in Akkadian.

Keywords:   law codes, Mesopotamia, Hammurabi, Near East, epistemology, Babylonia, Ur-Namma, Lipit-Eshtar, Dadusha, law

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