Hammurabi First Class

v     Classes

     The law seems to recognize three, defined as

        Free born



     The Britannica article recognizes three, defined as

        Amelu: Patrician? Includes artisans

        Muskinu: Landless man?

        Ardu: Slave

     The Britannica isnt limited to the codelots of other surviving material.

v     Making sense of quantities, prices, etc.


        Different units




        Gur of corn

        Ka of corn

        Units of weight used as money

        Mina of gold

        Mina of silver

        Mina of money???


        Shekel, Gerah similarly


        Web search which tells us

        Mina about a poundsurviving weights!

        60 shekels to the mina

        20 Gerah to the shekel, at least in Israel

        gur = aprox 300 liters

        sar = 36 square meters

        gold about 12 times the value of silver by weight

        Internal consistency

        Some wages are given in gur of corn/year, some in gerah/day

      So you can calculate a conversion between them

      Assuming how many days people work

      And from that to shekels

        Hire of oxen, cart and driver is 180 ka of corn/day

      Ox for threshing 20 ka

      cart alone is 40 ka

      so driver is 100 ka/day

     if we assume two oxen

     and assume that oxen for threshing cost the same rental as oxen to draw a cartwhich may be wrong

      60 ka/day if four oxen, other assumptions the same

      which should be around 60-100 shekels/year, the ordinary wage rate suggested from other sources

        fines in mina and closely related fines in shekels

      striking the body of another

      1 gold mina for freeborn striking body of another free born of equal rank

     10 shekels if freed man strikes the body of another freed man

     so shekel must be gold shekel, makes it 1/3 instead of 1/36 the amount.

      Strike a woman, she loses the child

     10 shekels if a free born woman

     5 shekels if freed

        fines in mina of gold and closely related fines in mina

      Accidental death from injury in a quarrel, free born, 1/2 mina

      Putting out the eye of a freed man, 1 gold mina

      Suggests that mina means gold

      Goring ox kills a free born man, 1/2 mina in money

      Suggests that that also means gold.


        Mina is always gold unless specified as silver

        Ditto for shekel


        1 calculation suggests 60-100 shekels/year, but

        A boat with displacement of 20 tons only two shekels to build?

        Hire of a boat about a shekel a week!

        Serious injury (eye or fracture) of a freed man 60 shekelsfits.

        Negligently killing a free born man, 30 shekelstoo low.

        Strikes a woman, she loses her child, 5-10 shekels.

        If she dies, 20-30 shekels

        Physician heals a fracture, 2-5 shekels, operation 2-10 shekels

        Depending on rank of patient

        Risk of losing his hands if he kills or blinds the patient

        Or having to replace patient if a slave (or half if lost an eye)

     Value of life

        For upper class, eye for an eye for serious offenses

        Fines start at 1 mina for freed, 1/2 mina for free born woman

v     Analyzing the code

     Sort it into criminal, tort, property, family, etc.

     Try to make sense of each

      Recognizing that our classification may not fit theirs very well.

v     Criminal

     Death penalty for lots of things

        Ensnare but not proofsome sort of false accusation

        Bring a capital accusation but not prove it

        Steal the property of temple or courtor receive the stolen property

        But steal cattle, sheep, ass, pig or goat

      from god or court, pay thirty fold

      ten fold if a freed man of the king (?)

      death if he cant pay

        merchant who sells stolen property

        or possessor if he cant prove he bought it from a merchant

        or putative owner, if he cant prove he owned it!

        Buying something from someones son or slave without witness or contract, a thief, capital

        Stealing a minor son

        Taking someone elses slave (court or freed man) outside the city gates

        Harboring such a slave

        Breaking into a house

        Caught committing a robbery.

     Trial by ordealleap into the river.

     Accuser gets the fine!

     Judge who is culpably wrong pays 12 times the fine, is fired