Hammurabis Code and the Babylonian Economy

Hammurabi’s and the Babylonian Economy The portrait of the earliest civilizations is often embedded in the earliest historical relics. Hammurabi’s Code, regarded as the earliest set of law established by mankind, becomes a living description of Babylon in the 1780 BC. This set of law does not only give us a glimpse of their early judicial system but reveals other significant social aspects, most notably its economic condition. The various passages in Hammurabi’s Code pertaining to commerce indicate a Babylonian economic system based on diversified economic base, primarily comprised of agriculture and animal husbandry, and extensive trading network.
The Babylonian economy, as depicted in the Hammurabi’s set of law is dependent on farming which is supported by economic infrastructure. The Code showed the importance of agriculture as the major livelihood of the citizens. It should be noted that various laws mention major crops such as corn, grains, and wool. The heavy punishment to be administered to anyone stealing and causing poor harvest indicates the importance of these commodities. It is also notable that the agricultural economy of Babylon is supported by quite complicated infrastructures to ensure a good harvest. The Hammurabi’s Code mentions the presence of dams and dikes which prevents flooding agricultural areas.
Animal husbandry is another major livelihood during the Babylonian Empire. It should be noted that the Code set out provisions regarding the robbery of major livestock. Within that civilization, it is remarkable how the citizens were able to raise a number of animals such as cattle, sheep, ass, pig, or goat. The importance of animal husbandry in the economy cannot be overestimated. For an individual steal any of the aforementioned animals and has nothing to pay for it, he will need to give his life as a payment.
Though the above two industries represents the two major activities in the Babylonian economy, it should be noted that the civilization also features extensive trading network, commercial, and financial activities. Passage 104 of the Code describes trade between merchants which is carried out by their respective agents. Goods such as corn, wool, and oil are transported from one geographic location to another in order to facilitate the exchange of commodities. It should also be noted that trading has already evolved from the barter system as money is already exchanged for goods. The early Babylon also carries out commercial activities evidenced by the presence of taverns. Other passages pertaining to debt payment indicates the presence of financial intermediaries which channels excess funds to users in the economic system.
As discussed above, the Hammurabi’s Code contains a wealth of information regarding to the civilization’s economic system. As a typical primitive society, Babylon’s major industries are agriculture and animal husbandry. In spite of this, it also shows the features of a modern economy such as trading, commercial, and financial activities. It should be noted that even though the Code can already give us a glimpse of the economic system, further studies on other historical relics can furnish us with significant information to have a complete picture.
King, L. W. "Hammurabi’s Code of Laws." n.d. 17 August 2006