(adapted from Yale Law School's website with commentary)

CLICK HERE for list of laws

[    Ca. 1762 b.c.e.—Babylon=1st metropolis

[    population of Babylonia:  many races w/ intercommunication between the cities—incessant

[    uniform system of law based on causality rather than intentionality, meaning that your punishment is based on whether or not you are the cause of the crime rather than what your intentions were. (For example, there is no difference between negligent homicide and 1st degree murder.)

[    groups of aliens to the number of twenty at a time were free to enter the city

[    foreign women once married to Babylonian husbands could not be enslaved

[    not even a dog that entered the city could be put to death untried

[    king=benevolent autocrat, easily accessible to all his subjects, both able and willing to protect the weak against the highest-placed oppressor

[    royal power can only pardon when private resentment is appeased

[    judges are strictly supervised and appeal is allowed

[    feudal holdings, masters of the levy, police

[    regular postal system

[    pax Babylonica is so assured that private individuals do not hesitate to ride in their carriage from Babylon to the coast of the Mediterranean

[    position of women is free and dignified

[    universal habit of writing and perpetual recourse to written contract

[    deed of agreement was drawn up in the temple by a notary public, and confirmed by an oath "by god and the king."


o       whole population as falling into three classes: amelu, muskinu and ardu

o       AMELU=patrician, the man of family

§        birth, marriage and death were registered

§        ancestral estates and full civil rights

§        aristocratic privileges and responsibilities

§        right to exact retaliation for corporal injuries

§        liability to heavier punishment for crimes and misdemeanours

§        higher fees and fines to pay

§        To this class belonged the king and court, the higher officials, the professions and craftsmen

§        no property qualification nor does the term appear to be racial

o       MUSKINU

§        difficult to characterize the muskinu exactly, but probably most akin to serfs in Medieval Europe

§        term came in time to mean "a beggar" and with that meaning has passed through Aramaic and Hebrew into many modern languages

§        not necessarily poor but probably landless

§        free, but had to accept monetary compensation for corporal injuries

§        paid smaller fees and fines, even paid less offerings to the gods

§        inhabited a separate quarter of the city

o       ARDU=slave, his master's chattel

§        formed the most numerous class

§        could acquire property and even hold other slaves

§        master clothed and fed him, paid his doctor's fees, but took all compensation paid for injury done to him

§        master usually found him a slave-girl as wife (the children were then born slaves)

§        master often set him up in a house (with farm or business) and simply took an annual rent of him

§        OR… he might marry a freewoman (the children were then free), who might bring him a dower which his master could not touch

§        at his death one-half of his property passed to his master as his heir

§        could acquire his freedom by purchase from his master, or might be freed and dedicated to a temple, or even adopted, when he became an amelu and not a muskinu

§        Slaves were recruited by purchase abroad, from captives taken in war and by freemen degraded for debt or crime

§        slave often ran away; if caught, the captor was bound to restore him to his master on penalty of death

§        slaves bore identification marks, which could only be removed by a surgical operation and which later consisted of his owner's name tattooed or branded on the arm


[    Marriage=purchase/contract to be man and wife

[    marriage of young people was usually arranged between the relatives, the bride- groom's father providing the bride-price

[    dowry might include real estate, but generally consisted of personal effects and household furniture

[    dowry remained the wife's for life, descending to her children, if any

[    marriage ceremony included joining of hands and the utterance of some formula of acceptance on the part of the bridegroom, as "I am the son of nobles, silver and gold shall fill thy lap, thou shalt be my wife, I will be thy husband. Like the fruit of a garden I will give thee offspring."

[    Marriage ceremony must be performed by a freeman

[    marriage contract stated the consequences to which each party was liable for repudiating the other

o       many conditions might be inserted

o       the wife should act as maidservant to her mother-in-law, or to a first wife

o       man responsible for debts contracted by his wife, even before her marriage, as well as for his own

o       husbands could use wives and children as mancipium

o       wife should not be seized for her husband's prenuptial debts; but enacted that then he was not responsible for her prenuptial debts, and, in any case, that both together were responsible for all debts contracted after marriage

o       man might make his wife a settlement by deed of gift, which gave her a life interest in part of his property, and he might reserve to her the right to bequeath it to a favourite child, but she could in no case leave it to her family

o       although married, she always remained a member of her father's house--she is rarely named wife of A, usually daughter of B, or mother of C

[    divorce was optional with the man, but he had to restore the dowry and, if the wife had borne him children, she had the custody of them

o       men paid alimony and child support until the children grew up

o       once divorced, she was free to marry again

[    If she had been a bad wife

o       the husband send her away, while he kept the children and her dowry

o       …or he could degrade her to the position of a slave in his own house, where she would have food and clothing

[    The wife could charge her husband with cruelty and neglect

o       If she proved her case, she obtained a judicial separation, taking with her her dowry

o       No other punishment fell on the man

o       If, however, she did not prove her case, but proved to be a bad wife, she was drowned

[    Monogamy was the rule, and a childless wife might give her husband a maid (who was no wife) to bear him children, who were reckoned hers

[    She remained mistress of her maid and might degrade her to slavery again for insolence, but could not sell her if she had borne her husband children.

[    The concubine was a wife, though not of the same rank; the first wife had no power over her

[    A concubine was a free woman, was often dowered for marriage and her children were legitimate

[    no hindrance to a man having children by a slave girl. These children were free, in any case, and their mother could not be sold, though she might be pledged, and she was free on her master's death

[    Vestal virgins were not supposed to have children, yet they could and often did marry, & such a wife would give a husband a surrogate to bear his children

[    Free women might marry slaves and be dowered for the marriage

[    A father had control over his children till their marriage. He had a right to their labour in return for their keep. He might hire them out and receive their wages, pledge them for debt, even sell them outright. Mothers had the same rights in the absence of the father; even elder brothers when both parents were dead.

[    The daughter was not only in her father's power to be given in marriage, but he might dedicate her to the service of some god as a vestal or a hierodule; or give her as a concubine. She had no choice in these matters, which were often decided in her childhood.

[    A grown-up daughter might wish to become a votary, perhaps in preference to an uncongenial marriage, and it seems that her father could not refuse her wish.

[    In all these cases the father might dower her

[    If he did not, on his death the brothers were bound to do so, giving her a full child's share if a wife, a concubine or a vestal, but one-third of a child's share if she were a hierodule or a Marduk priestess (who had the privilege of exemption from state dues and absolute disposal of her property)

[    All other daughters had only a life interest in their dowry, which reverted to their family, if childless, or went to their children if they had any.

Babylon (Iraq)

The city of Babylon is mentioned in documents of the late third millennium BC and became the centre of an Amorite dynasty in the early second millennium BC. The sixth Amorite ruler, Hammurapi, created an empire across Mesopotamia. It was the royal city of the Kassites and during the Second Dynasty of Isin (1157-1026 BC) it became the capital of southern Mesopotamia and its patron deity Marduk became the national god.

Nebuchadnezzar II rebuilt Babylon in the sixth century BC and it became the largest ancient settlement in Mesopotamia. There were two sets of fortified walls and massive palaces and religious buildings, including the central ziggurat tower. Nebuchadnezzar is also credited with the construction of the famous 'Hanging Gardens' and with exiling the Jews from Jerusalem and destroying Solomon’s Temple.

http://www.understandingwar.org/ (This site provides in depth information about the Iraq war as well as the war in Afghanistan.)