World History October 2009



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Mr. Walker

World History



October 2009


Around 1790 BCE a man named Hammurabi conquered Mesopotamia. He established an empire with a capital city at Babylon. To help unify his empire, he collected existing Mesopotamian laws into a single code of around 300 specific laws. The code regulated not only crime but also a variety of other areas. He engraved the code on stone pillars and placed them throughout his empire. The following regulations from Hammurabi’s Code deal with marriage, family matters, property, personal injury, and trade.
142. If a woman hates her husband and says to him “You cannot be with me,” the authorities in her district will investigate the case. If she has been chaste and without fault, even though her husband has neglected or belittled her, she will be held innocent and may return to her father’s house.
143. If the woman is at fault, she shall be thrown into the river.
195. If a son has struck his father, his hands shall be cut off.
196. If a man has destroyed the eye of another free man, his own eye shall be destroyed.
198. If he has destroyed the eye of a peasant, or broken a bone of a peasant, he shall pay one silver mina.
199. If he put out the eye of a man’s slave, or break the bone of a man’s slave, he shall pay one-half of its value.
200. If a man has knocked out the teeth of a man of the same rank, his own teeth shall be knocked out.
218. If a physician has treated a man with a metal knife for a severe wound, and has caused the man to die, or has opened a man’s tumor with a metal knife, and destroyed the man’s eye, his hands shall be cut off…
229. If a builder has built a house for a man and his work is not strong, and if the house he has built falls in and kills the householder, that builder shall be slain,
230. If the child of the householder is killed, the child of that builder shall be slain.
231. If the slave of the household is killed, he shall give slave for slave to the householder.
232. If goods have been destroyed, he shall replace all that has been destroyed; and because the house that he built was not made strong, and it has fallen in, he shall restore the fallen house out of his own personal property.

Questions: Please answer in complete sentences. Each answer should be at least 3-5 sentences long.


  1. Are the codes of Hammurabi based on social classes? Given one example to support your answer (be sure to explain your example).



  1. Why might the punishments and crimes be based on social classes?



  1. Hammurabi had these 300 laws printed on large stone pillars and placed them throughout his empire. Why do you think Hammurabi did this? Would you do the same if your were in Hammurabi’s shoes?




  1. What clues does the Code of Hammurabi give about Babylonian society? How does it describe the roles of men and women?


  1. Do you agree with Hammurabi’s codes? Explain why/why not.

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