Wednesday, November 02, 2011


(Akkadian, meaning "the kinsman is a healer," ca. 1810 BC – 1750 BC), was the sixth king of Babylon. He became the first king of the Babylonian Empire, extending Babylon's control over Mesopotamia by winning a series of wars against neighboring kingdoms.

Hammurabi is known for the set of laws called Hammurabi's Code, one of the first written codes of law in recorded history. Owing to his reputation in modern times as an ancient law-giver, Hammurabi's portrait is in many government buildings throughout the world. Although his empire controlled all of Mesopotamia by the time of his death, his successors were unable to maintain his empire.

Hammurabi was one of the first dynasty kings of the city-state of Babylon, and inherited the throne from his father, Sin-muballit, in 1792 BC.

Babylon was one of the many ancient city-states that dotted the Mesopotamian plain and waged war on each other for control of fertile agricultural land. Though many cultures co-existed in Mesopotamia, Babylonian culture gained a degree of prominence among the literate classes throughout the Middle East The kings who came before Hammurabi had begun to consolidate rule of central Mesopotamia under Babylonian hegemony and, by the time of his reign, had conquered the city-states of Borsippa, Kish, and Sippar. Thus Hammurabi ascended to the throne as the king of a minor kingdom in the midst of a complex geopolitical situation, surrounded by the more powerful kingdoms of Shamshi-Adad, Larsa, Eshnunna, and Elam.

The first few decades of Hammurabi's reign were relatively peaceful, although the death of Shamshi-Adad I led to the fragmentation of his northern Semitic empire, and Babylon became comparatively stronger as a result. Hammurabi used this time to undertake a series of public works, including heightening the city walls for defensive purposes, and expanding the temples.

In 1766 BC, the powerful kingdom of Elam, which straddled important trade routes across the Zagros Mountains, invaded the Mesopotamian plain. With allies among the plain states, Elam attacked and destroyed the empire of Eshnunna, destroying a number of cities and imposing its rule on portions of the plain for the first time. In order to consolidate its position, Elam tried to start a war between Hammurabi's Babylonian kingdom and the kingdom of Larsa. Hammurabi and the king of Larsa made an alliance when they discovered this duplicity and were able to crush the Elamites, although Larsa did not contribute greatly to the military effort. Angered by Larsa's failure to come to his aid, Hammurabi turned on that southern power, thus gaining control of the entirety of the lower Mesopotamian plain by 1699 BC.


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