Stele with Law Code of Hammurabi

Hammurabi Stele

c. 1780 BC

This is the upper part of the stele that is approximately 7' 4" tall. The laws, written in cuneiform, are inscribed on the lower part of the monument.

Hammurabi, King of Babylon reunited Mesopotamia and instituted the Code of Hammurabi, a comprehensive set of laws addressing nearly all aspects of both civil and criminal offenses.

Hammurabi is portrayed receiving the laws directly from Shamash the sun god. (a parallel to Moses can be made here). Shamash is the dominant figure—he is seated on his throne, wears a crown composed of four pairs of horns, holds a ring and staff, and has flames issuing from his shoulders. Although Hammurabi is subservient to the god he still makes a powerful authority statement by addressing the god directly. Even though he has his hand raised in reverence he shows that he has a personal relationship with the gods while mere mortals do not.