The Stele of Hammurabi: A Legal and Artistic Masterpiece

Going back to 1792 B.C.E. the Stele of Hammurabi is a considerable piece of history known around the world. This specific art piece is known for contributing the longest figured out writings which allows for others to find out substantially about Babylonian art, history, code, and governing. Throughout my paper I will discuss this masterpiece in depth and uncover details relating to distinct features, importance, and its categorization in art departments today.

The Stele of Hammurabi is seven feet, 4 inches tall and built in black diorite.

Engraved on this stele is a code written by Hammurabi to help set rules in governing his people. On the upper part of the Stele we see a sculpture illustrating Hammurabi and the Sun God, Shamash. Shamash is the Mesopotamian god of justice and in the top of Hammurabi's stele he is depicted handing Hammurabi signs that signify authority.

In regards to significance, The Stele of Hammurabi is very first and primary known for its exceptional description that makes up most of the bottom portion of the stele.

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Viewing as how this art piece provides us insight to not only people of the Mesopotamian period and community, it provides us with a historic text in regards to law. Though this "code" of law is not in the requirements that we utilize in our judicial systems today it rather supplies assistance and expectations to individuals under Hammurabi's rule. According to Iselin Claire, "It is not a code of laws in the sense that we understand it today, however rather a compendium of legal precedents" (Claire).

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Not just does this stele function as an aspect of authoritative standards, it likewise provides a list of towns within Hammurabi's kingdom.

Today the Stele of Hammurabi is located at the Louvre in Paris, France. The stele was originally found by a price in Elam, Iran and was eventually displayed in Susa acropolis (Claire). Here the stele acted as a governing force and an attribute to the Susa acropolis. Knowing that “The stele of the Babylonian king Hammurabi constitutes a summary of one of the most prestigious reigns of ancient Mesopotamia” (Claire) it was studied by the school of scribes and deciphered. Within this school the stele was used as an educational tool for the next 100 years.

My interested in The Stele of Hammurabi was peeked when I visited the Louvre in May of last year. Having previously studied aspects of The Stele of Hammurabi, it was an eye-opening experience seeing this stele in person and having a slight understanding of the importance it is to art, law, and educational history. Seeing The Stele of Hammurabi at the Louvre also peeked my interest to write this paper and learn more about the intimate details that surround the law inscribed on the bottom part and the significance of the scene portrait in the top part of the stele.

In conclusion, The Stele of Hammurabi is a piece of art significant to the world ‘s history and allows us to learn about the Mesopotamian way of government. It is especially insightful due to in-depth description of rules and codes developed by Hammurabi and the type of ruling he had over his people. It provides not only information in regards to communication and writing during this time period, but also shows the extent of literacy the Mesopotamian people had at this time period. It shows that Mesopotamian people (Hammurabi especially) were capable of governing in a rational and well thought out way. It provides as an educational tool for law history and ancient civilization history. All-in-all The Stele of Hammurabi still provides insightful information in every culture of the world and can be noted for its deep description and understanding of an ancient civilization.

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Updated: Nov 30, 2023
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The Stele of Hammurabi: A Legal and Artistic Masterpiece. (2016, Mar 07). Retrieved from

The Stele of Hammurabi: A Legal and Artistic Masterpiece essay
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