The story

Society in Mesopotamia (continued)


The right

The Code of Hammurabi, until recently the first code of laws that had news, is not original. It is a compilation of Sumerian laws mixed with Semitic traditions. It features a diversity of legal procedures and punishment for a wide range of crimes.

It contains 282 laws covering virtually every aspect of Babylonian life, including trade, property, inheritance, women's rights, family, adultery, false accusations, and slavery. Its main features are: Pena or retaliation Act, ie, "eye for eye, tooth for tooth" (the criminal punishment should be exactly proportional to the crime that he committed) before inequality law (punishment varied according to the social position of the offender and victim), a division of classes in society (free men, and some slaves known intermediate group - the mushkhinum) and equal membership in the distribution of inheritance.

The Hammurabi Code reflects the concern to discipline economic life (price control, the organization of artisans, etc.) and to guarantee the regime of private land ownership. Mesopotamian legal texts invoked the gods of justice, the same as divination, who decreed the laws and presided over the trials.


Caption: inscription of the Hammurabi Code.

The arts

The most developed of the arts, however, was not as remarkable as the Egyptian. It was characterized by exhibitionism and luxury. They built temples and palaces, which were considered copies of existing in heaven, bricks, being scarce the stone in the region. The ziggurat, a multistory tower, was the characteristic building of Sumerian city-states. In the constructions, they employed clay, tiles and bricks.

Sculpture and the painting

Both sculpture and painting were fundamentally decorative. The sculpture was poor, represented by the low relief. The Assyrian statuary, gigantic and original, stood out. The reliefs of the palace of Ashurbanipal are works of exceptional artists. Mural painting existed as a function of architecture.

The music and the dance

The music in Mesopotamia, especially among the Babylonians, was linked to religion.

When the faithful were gathered, singing hymns in praise of the gods, with music accompaniment. These hymns began often by the expressions: "Glory, praise such a God, I want to sing the praises of such a god", following the enumeration of their qualities, for help that it can expect the faithful.

In the penitential ceremonies, hymns were mourning: "there of us," exclaimed they, remembering the sufferings of this or that god or pitying-of misfortunes that collapse of the city. Instruments without doubt muffled sounds, accompanied this recital and in the body of these psalms and see if the stop-text and onomatopoeia "water", "ui", "water", follow each other in a whole line. The mass of the faithful should stop recitation and not resume it only when everyone in chorus had groan enough.

The procession finally often accompany religious ceremonies and even civil ceremonies. About a bas-relief Assyrian the British Museum that is taking the city of Madaktu in Elam, the population out of the city and stands before the winner, preceded by music, while women of the procession clap the east to pace the march.

Singing also had links to magic. There are corners for or against a happy birth, love songs, hatred, war, hunting songs, summoning the dead corners to favor, among travelers, the trance state.

The dance, which is the gesture, reinforced act relies on magic on the similarity laws. It is mimicry, applies to all things: - there are dances to bring rain to war, hunting, love etc.

Ritual dances have been performed on monuments in West Asia, Sumer. In Thecheme-Ali, near Tehran; at Tepe-Sialk, near Kashan; in Tepe-Mussian, Susa region, archaic shards reproduce rows of naked women, holding hands, hair blowing, performing a dance. In cylinder-seals are seen dancing in the course of the sacred feasts (royal tombs of Ur).

The legacy of the Mesopotamian peoples

We have inherited from the Mesopotamian peoples various elements of our culture. Let's look at some:

  • the year 12 months and the week 7 days;
  • the division of the day into 24 hours;
  • belief in horoscopes and the twelve signs of the zodiac;
  • the forecast of eclipses.
  • the habit of planting according to the phases of the moon;
  • the circumference of 360 degrees;
the arithmetic process of mathematical operations; multiplication, division, sum and subtraction plus square and cubic root.