The study of law is a model of advancement and a key developmental stage for nations. It requires the study of the Code of Hammurabi and ancient laws that influenced this code, such as the Laws of Eshnunna, Lipit-Ishtar, the Reforms of Urukajina and the Code of Ur-Nammu. In particular, the Code of Ur-Nammu is one of the most important codes created by ancient human civilization.
Ur-Nammu laid the foundation for the Third Dynasty of Ur, or the Neo-Sumerian Empire, after the retreat of the Akkadians to the Zagros Mountains at the hands of the Utu-hegal. Ur-Nammu gained control over all of Sumeira, and it is said that the deity Nanar appointed Ur-Nammu as king of Ur and his representative on earth.
The Third Dynasty of Ur was ruled by five kings over the period of the next 122 years. Sir Leonard Willy, an expert archaeologist, discovered key artifacts from the time of King Ur-Nammu’s rule that shed light on seven years of his rule, starting from his victorious uprising against the king. Ur-Nammu built several cities, houses of worship and palaces, including a temple for the worship of the Moon God, Nanna, and a temple for his wife Nin Kal. Ur-Nammu also built himself a palace, as well as towers and a fence around the city of Ur.
The cities of Lakash, Eridu, Uma, Larsa and Urb were architectural masterpieces created by Ur-Nammu. He constructed canals, streams and towers that withstood the test of time, engraving them with his name. The king, who ruled for a total of 18 years, from 2106 to 2123 BC, also engraved Hammurabi’s code into these masterpieces, and they now sit in Istanbul.
The Code of Ur-Nammu It is considered the oldest law discovered to date, not only in Mesopotamia, but across the entire world. This law was used to uphold justice and destroy oppression throughout the country. The code begins with an introduction that clearly relies on Divine Command Theory.
It was originally thought there were 31 articles total in the Code of Ur-Nammu, and that there were only three articles missing. However, a tablet discovered in Sippar with six articles helped fill in the previously missing introduction, bringing the total to 37 articles.
A number of issues are addressed, including women’s rights (for example, a divorced woman who married without a contract or slavery), punishments for crimes (honor crimes, a slave who equates herself with her mistress, bearing false witness, pillaging someone else’s farmlands, neglect of rented lands, all types of assault, sexual crimes, false accusations, theft), compensation and retribution, property laws and environmental laws.
Dr. Wael al-Dessouki
Editor-in-Chief of Almoqtataf Magazine