Writing, Law, and Kingship in Old Babylonian Mesopotamia (Google eBook)

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University of Chicago Press, Nov 15, 2010 - History - 200 pages
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Ancient Mesopotamia, the fertile crescent between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in what is now western Iraq and eastern Syria, is considered to be the cradle of civilization—home of the Babylonian and Assyrian empires, as well as the great Code of Hammurabi. The Code was only part of a rich juridical culture from 2200–1600 BCE that saw the invention of writing and the development of its relationship to law, among other remarkable firsts.

 

Though ancient history offers inexhaustible riches, Dominique Charpin focuses here on the legal systems of Old Babylonian Mesopotamia and offers considerable insight into how writing and the law evolved together to forge the principles of authority, precedent, and documentation that dominate us to this day. As legal codes throughout the region evolved through advances in cuneiform writing, kings and governments were able to stabilize their control over distant realms and impose a common language—which gave rise to complex social systems overseen by magistrates, judges, and scribes that eventually became the vast empires of history books. Sure to attract any reader with an interest in the ancient Near East, as well as rhetoric, legal history, and classical studies, this book is an innovative account of the intertwined histories of law and language.

 

 

  

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Contents

Introduction The Historians Task and Sources
1
The Business of Specialists?
7
Two Outline for a Diplomatics of Mesopotamian Documents
25
Gesture Speech and Writing
43
Four The Transfer of Property Deeds and the Constitution of Family Archives
53
Five The Status of the Code of Hammurabi
71
Six The Restoration Edicts of the Babylonian Kings and Their Application
83
Seven Hammurabi and International Law
97
Eight Controlling Cross Border Traffi c
115
Conclusion A Civilization with Two Faces
127
Notes
133
Index
177
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About the author (2010)

Dominique Charpin is directeur d’études, section des Sciences historiques et philologiques, École pratique des hautes études at the University of Paris. He is the author of Lire et Ecrire à Babyloné, most recently, among several other books. Jane Marie Todd is the translator of numerous books for the University of Chicago Press.

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