Law Code of Hammurabi
While the Law Code of Hammurabi (now in the Louvre) is well known for its “eye for an eye” style of lawmaking, it also sets out the nature of the relationship between Hammurabi, the gods and the people he ruled.
In his view, the gods sent him to rule, with some level of compassion, over his empire. The preamble to the code says that “then Anu and Bel [both gods] called by name me, Hammurabi, the exalted prince, who feared God, to bring about the rule of righteousness in the land, to destroy the wicked and the evil-doers; so that the strong should not harm the weak ...” (Translation by L.W. King)
While Hammurabi claimed to be compassionate, his code was harsh, making liberal use of death sentences (in some cases even for stealing) and allowing the hacking off of body parts. This is a change from an earlier law code, created centuries ago by a ruler of Ur, which was more inclined to impose fines.
Leick also notes that debt slavery was a problem, and Hammurabi, and later his successors, had to occasionally cancel debts. These acts “hint at a less rosy picture of crushing debt burdens incurred through falling agricultural productivity and high interest rate on loan capital taken out to meet tax demands and other obligations.”
Wars with Assyria and Elam
The period from roughly 1200 to 600 B.C. would be a rocky one for Babylon, one filled with many wars and some successes. Around 1200 B.C., the whole eastern Mediterranean suffered calamity as a wave of migrants called the “Sea People,” perhaps spurred on by crop failures and environmental problems, swept over much of the Middle East, felling cities in Turkey and the Levant and contributing to problems that would see the break-up of Egypt.
Babylon suffered as well. A war with Assyria resulted in a Babylonian king being led to Ashur in chains while one with Elam led to the statue of Marduk being stolen yet again. A new Babylonian ruler named Nebuchadnezzar I (1126-1105 B.C.) came to the rescue, so to speak, defeating Elam and bringing the statue back. Leick writes that with his success, the New Year festival became increasingly important.
“This complex ritual, which involved the gathering of all important Babylonian deities at Babylon, the recitation of the Creation Epic (enuma elish) and the confirmation of kingship by the god Marduk, was given new impetus, if it was not altogether invented at this time,” she writes.
The Tower of Babel?
Although largely destroyed today, in ancient times the ziggurat of Etemenanki (whose name means roughly the “Temple Foundation of Heaven and Earth”) would have towered over the city, located just to the north of the Esagil shrine. Like the shrine, it was dedicated to the god Marduk.
The Greek writer Herodotus, who lived in the fifth century B.C., describes it as a “solid tower” which is “two hundred and twenty yards long and broad; a second tower rises from this and from it yet another, until at last there are eight ...”
He says that “in the last tower there is a great shrine; and in it stands a great and well-covered couch, and a golden table nearby. But no image has been set up in the shrine, nor does any human creature lie there for the night, except one native woman, chosen from all women by the god, as the Chaldaeans say, who are priests of this god.” (Translation by A.D Godley, through Perseus Digital Library) [Pyramidal-type, note: Maya, etc., burial+worship+fertile-plateau-planting;
Herodotus may have exaggerated its size somewhat with modern-day scholars believing that it rises up seven rather than eight levels. Also Herodotus believed it was dedicated to the god Bel rather than Marduk. [Baal is Sumerian. See also VULTURE TOWERS, described in http://www.earthfiles.com/news.php?ID=2083&category=Science (Part 1 = http://www.earthfiles.com/news.php?ID=2082&category=Science]
Still rebuilding the structure would have been an impressive feat and, as some scholars believe, may have inspired the biblical story of the Tower of Babel.
============== --- "Ancient Babylon: Center of Mesopotamian Civilization" - http://www.livescience.com/28701-ancient-babylon-center-of-mesopotamian-civilization.html
Phoenician (and probably later Palestinian) related traders fleeing the Santorini volcanic explosion and tsunami emanating at Malta. est 1200 bc
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