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Hammurabi was the ruler who chiefly established the greatness of Babylon, the world's first metropolis. Many relics of Hammurabi's reign, 1795-1750 BC, have been preserved. The most remarkable of the Hammurabi records is his code of laws, the earliest-known example of a ruler proclaiming publicly to his people an entire body of laws, arranged in orderly groups, so that all men might read and know what was required of them.


The code was carved upon a black stone monument, eight feet high, and clearly intended to be reared in public view. This noted stone was found in the year 1901, not in Babylon, but in a city of the Persian mountains, to which some later conqueror must have carried it in triumph. It begins and ends with addresses to the gods. Even a law code was in those days regarded as a subject for prayer, though the prayers here are chiefly cursings of whoever shall neglect or destroy the law. The Code contains 282 laws. The code then regulates in clear and definite strokes the organization of society. For instance if a slave say to his master: 'You are not my master,' if they convict him his master ...

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