·        Warfare in Sumeria between city-states: 3000-2000 B.C.

o       Shifts in power from Kish to Uruk to Lagash to Umma, etc.

o       Prevents cohesion

o       Weakens area for attack

·        Amorites, a Semitic people (like the Jews) sack Mesopotamia c. 2000

o       Scale walls or Ur and burst into temple

o       capital moved to Babylon (hence the name Babylonia)

o       Babylon remains a great cultural center until onset of Greek civilization c. 300 B.C.

·        Hammurabi (1792-1750 B.C.)

1.      Greatest Babylonian king – unites all of Mes. through conquest (700 miles long-by-100 miles wide)

2.      Hammurabi’s Code: 3000 rulings, pragmatic, no universal principles (waiting for Sinai?)

o       Babylon’s merchants, farmers, and workers need laws to arbitrate disputes

o       Shamash, the sun god, was also god of law and justice and as that he was said by the Babylonians to have given mankind their laws

o       For most serious crimes the punishment was death (drowning or burning)

o       Also used were mutilations. Typically a part of the body, such as hands or ears were cut off

o       Most minor crimes, however, tended to be punished by a fine

o       The code of Moses is merely a list of prohibitions whereas the two Mesopotamian texts give judgment in particular circumstances.

o       Key concepts: eye for an eye, different punishments for same crime, gov’t has responsibility to the governed

o       Still studied by students 1,000 years later

o       Even had a provision for alimony of sorts

o       Inspires future law codes in other nations

3.      Many of the temples rebuilt throughout southern Mesopotamia and not just in the region of Babylon.

4.      Restored the ziggurrat of the city of Kish.

5.      During the rule of Hammurabi trade flourished. This is because he protected merchants and made the trade routes safe.

6.      Like all kings of Babylon, Hammurabi took the hands of Bel (Marduk) at the New Year’s Festival thus being pronounced by Marduk, the city god, as the true king.

7.      Made many conquests in Babylonia and in the rest of Mesopotamia.

a.       In 1763 B.C. he conquered the important city of Larsa in Babylonia

b.      In 1761 BC he conquered another important city, Mari, which was situated on the middle Euphrates (north of Babylon)

·        Mari tablets

1.      From same time period as Hammurabi (1800-1750 B.C.)

2.      excavated 1930s-1970s

3.      subject content mostly deals with financial and business transactions

4.     Confirms that biblical names were in use at the time:

1.      Terah

2.      Nahor

3.      Haran

4.      Nahor

5.      Ishmael

6.      Variations of Abraham and Jacob

5.      One tablet is a wagon contract.

1.      Contract states that as a condition of rental, the wagon must not be driven to the Mediterranean Sea.

1.      Serves as an indication that such long-distance travel as Abraham undertook was normative

·        Education

1.      Virtually the only education that a young Babylonian might have received would have been of a scribal type.

2.      Those who were sent to school to train as a scribe had to be children of wealthy or influential parents.

3.      Boys were admitted and it is possible that girls were as well. It is certainly true that rich women often had a lot of freedom and influence.

4.      The students' education would begin when he was eight or nine years old.

o       Each day he would get up at sunrise and take his lunch to school, which was commonly known as the tablet house.

o       At the tablet house there would be a man roughly equivalent to a head master. His title literally meant the Expert.

o       There would be a number of other teachers who would each specialise in a different aspect of Sumerian and its writing.

o       To keep the students in order some of the senior students would be appointed as a big brother like prefects at some modern schools.

o       A student’s work would consist of copying tablets using a slab of wet clay. Also he would learn various texts by heart.

o       If he successfully passed an examination the student became a scribe.

·        Slaves

1.      First slaves probably through conquest

2.      In ancient Babylonia a considerable amount of work was done by slaves.

3.      A poor man might not have any slaves but Kings and the Temples often had slaves numbered in their thousands.

4.      A farmer would have more because he would need lots of workers to grow and harvest crops.

5.      Slaves were marked. This consisted of a branding and shaved hair. This meant that if a slave attempted to run away he would be easily recognized.

6.      Slaves tended to be foreigners captured in war or their descendants. The children of slaves would also be slaves.

7.      There were however several ways of getting out of slavery. If the slave had a kind master he might be freed. The slave could collect enough money and buy his freedom. He would also become free if he married a free woman. A slave’s lot was often not bad because he often would have been owned by a rich man and often had a better life than a poor freeman.

8.      A slave’s job would vary according to his owner. A female slave might be a maid or grind corn, whereas her male counterpart might work in the fields or help dig canals.

·        Horticulture

1.      The main crop in the time of the ancient Babylonians was barley.

2.      The process of growing barley would start in July or August.

1.      The ancient Babylonian farmer faced many problems with protecting his crops.

a.       He would pray to the goddess Vermin for help but he had many problems that this never solved.

b.      One of the biggest problems that he faced was the heat. The farmer tried to reduce the problem by planting trees that shaded the crop.

c.       The crops suffered from fungal diseases especially “rust”. Other major problems were birds and locusts.

d.      By about May the crop would be ripe and it would be instantly harvested. At harvesting time all available labor was called out to help bring it in, including children. The harvesters worked in groups of three. The first person would reap the barley, the second would tie the barley into sheaves and the third gathered up the sheaths into piles. Gleaners were allowed to pick up any fallen ears but were not allowed to interfere with the sheathes. There is an example of this in the Bible where Ruth picks up all the stray grain that has fallen on the ground


o       Religion

o       Inherits Mesopotamia’s polytheism

o       Chief god is Marduk

o       World created from watery waste

o       Man as a slave of the gods

o       Gods churn out men like bricks

o       Myths support absolute authority of monarchy

§         Bible, on the other hands, supports idea of humans as created co-creators


o       Babylonia’s Downfall

                                                                                                               i.      Phoenicians

                                                                                                             ii.      Jews

                                                                                                            iii.      Hittites






1.      What sort of laws would you make for a society? What sort of punishments would you inflict for lawbreakers? Come up with at least ten laws.


TOMORROW: The Hittites Make Their Mark…