One of the earliest known written laws in the Hammurabi Code fashioned by a Babylonian King in the 18th century B.C. His 282 laws standardized conduct and justice in his ancient Mesopotamian empire. The code was etched on a nearly 8-foot diorite pillar. His commands encompassed property rights, criminal behavior, slavery and divorce, and the brutal punishments due to those who disobeyed.
While Hammurabi’s legal codes are the best known from antiquity he was not the first to establish a code of law. Other early written laws on record are an ancient code of conduct created by Sumerian ruler Ur-Nammu in 21st century B.C. and another code of Lipit-Ishtar or Isan drawn up two centuries before Hammurabi got into the legal business.
The most famous ancient precept in Hammurabi’s Code is the law of retribution which we would label “an eye for an eye.” If a man broke one man’s bone, his own bone would be broken in return. Capital crimes were treated differently. Adulterers didn’t just trade partners. They were more likely to be impaled or burned to death.