Brief Look at the Code of Hammurabi

      In his position as King of Babylonia, Hammurabi managed to
organize the world's first code of laws and establish Babylon as the
dominant and successful Amorite city of its time. "Records written on
clay tablets show that Hammurabi was a very capable administrator and
a successful warrior. His rule spanned from 1792 B.C. to 1750 B.C.
When he became king in 1792, he was still young, but had already
become entrusted with many official duties in his administration"
(Grolier). In the early years of his reign, Hammurabi mostly
participated in  traditional activities, such as repairing buildings,
digging canals, and fighting wars. Yet later in his rule, Hammurabi
organized a unique code of laws, the first of its kind, therefore
making himself one of the world's most influential leaders.

      Hammurabi was primarily influential to the world because of his
code of laws. This code consisted of 282 provisions, systematically
arranged under a variety of subjects. He sorted his laws into groups
such as family, labor, personal property, real estate, trade, and
business. This was the first time in history that any laws had been
categorized into various sections. This format of organization was
emulated by civilizations of the future. For example, Semitic cultures
succeeding Hammurabi's rule used some of the same laws that were
included in Hammurabi's code. Hammurabi's method of thought is evident
in present day societies which are influenced by his code. Modern
governments currently create specific laws, which are placed into
their appropriate family of similar laws. Hammurabi had his laws
recorded upon an eight foot high black stone monument. Hammurabi based
his code on principles like, the strong should not injure the weak,
and that punishment should fit the crime. As for punishment, "legal
actions were initiated under the code by written pleadings; testimony
was taken under oath. The code was severe in it's penalties,
prescribing "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.""(Grolier). This
code of laws was able to be maintained by invoking the authority of
the gods and the state. Although the punishments were different than
those of today, the authority of the state (government) is similar.
Currently, punishments are issued through the state's law enforcement
system, comparable to the way punishment was determined and enforced
in ancient Babylon. In the code, crimes punishable by death required a
trial in front of a bench of judges. Included in these crimes were:
bigamy, incest, kidnapping, adultery and theft. There were also laws
similar to today. For example, a husband who wished to divorce his
wife, was required to pay alimony and child support. By creating the
world's first set of organized laws, Hammurabi constituted a model set
of moral codes for other civilizations to duplicate.

      "The code of Hammurabi is believed to have greatly influenced
the development of Near Eastern civilizations for centuries after it
was written"(Britannica). Although Hammurabi failed to establish an
effective bureaucratic system himself, his ideas were successful in
establishing laws in Babylonia. Since Babylon was the world's first
metropolis, the large population needed to be bound by a strict set of
organized civil laws. The way Hammurabi constructed his laws is
influential to the world today, because laws can be more easily
understood by the people.


"Code of Hammurabi." Encyclopedia Britannica (1989), X, 682.
"Hammurabi." Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia (1994).
"Hammurabi." Compton's Encyclopedia (1990), XI, 225.

Summerian Art and Architecture

Art and Architecture

More than 4,000 years ago the valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers began to teem with life–first the Sumerian, then the Babylonian, Assyrian, Chaldean, and Persian empires. Here too excavations have unearthed evidence of great skill and artistry.

From Sumeria have come examples of fine works in marble, diorite, hammered gold, and lapis lazuli. Of the many portraits produced in this area, some of the best are those of Gudea, ruler of Lagash.

Some of the portraits are in marble, others, such as the one in the Louvre in Paris, are cut in gray-black diorite.

Dating from about 2400 BC, they have the smooth perfection and idealized features of the classical period in Sumerian art.

Sumerian art and architecture was ornate and complex. Clay was the Sumerians’ most abundant material. Stone, wood, and metal had to be imported.

Art was primarily used for religious purposes. Painting and sculpture was the main median used.

Marble Statues

The famous votive stone/ marble sculptures from Tell Asmar represent tall, bearded figures with huge, staring eyes and long, pleated skirts.

Enlarged eyes were found on many statues

The tallest figure is about 30 inches in height. He represents the god of vegetation. The next tallest represents a mother goddess-mother goddesses were common in many ancient cultures. They were worshipped in the hope that they would bring fertility to women and to crops. (Another connection to African culture.)

The next largest figures are priests. The smallest figures are worshippers – a definite hierarchy of size. This is an example of artistic iconography. We learn to read picture symbols—bodies are cylindrical and scarcely differentiated by gender, with their uplifted heads and hands clasped. This is a pose of supplication-wanting or waiting for something.

Ur yielded much outstanding Sumerian work, e.g., a wooden harp with the head of a bull on top, showing mythological scenes in gold and mosaic inlay on the sound box (c.2650 B.C., Univ. of Penn., Philadelphia).

Sumerian techniques and motifs were widely available because of the invention of cuneiform writing before 3000 B.C.

This system of writing developed before the last centuries of the 4th millennium B.C. in the lower Tigris and Euphrates valley, most likely by the Sumerians. The characters consist of arrangements of wedge-like strokes, generally on clay tablets. The history of the script is strikingly like that of the Egyptian hieroglyphic.

Among other Sumerian arts forms were the clay cylinder seals used to mark documents or property. They were highly sophisticated.

Sumerian Art

The art of the Sumerian civilization, as revealed by excavations at Ur, Babylon, Uruk (Erech), Mari, Kish, and Lagash, among other cities, was one of enormous power and originality that influenced all of the major cultures of ancient western Asia. Their techniques and motifs were made widely available by means of cuneiform writing, which they invented before 3000 B.C. Poor in the raw materials of art, the Sumerians traded crops from their fertile soil for the metal, stone, and wood that they required. Clay was their most abundant native material, and its qualities determined their style of baked-mud building and the nature of their fine-textured pottery.

Sumerian craftsmanship was of marked excellence from very early times. A vase in alabaster from Erech (c.3500 B.C.; Iraq Mus., Baghdad) shows a detailed ceremonial procession of men and animals to the fertility goddess Inanna, carved in four bands on an elegant vase shape. A major peak of artistic achievement is represented by a female head, called Lady of Warka (Erech) from about 3200 B.C. (Iraq Mus.). It is carved in white marble with simplicity and subtlety.

The vast royal cemetery at Ur has yielded many masterpieces of Sumerian work. Outstanding among these are a wooden harp detailed with gold and mosaic inlay picturing mythological scenes on the soundbox, surmounted by a black-bearded golden head of a bull (c.2650 B.C.; Univ. of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia); a gaming board of wood inlaid with bone, lapis lazuli, shell, and stone, mounted in bitumen (c.2700 B.C.; British Mus.); a ritual offering stand in the shape of a ram, made of silver, lapis lazuli, and mussel shells, rearing on his hind legs to eat from a tree of gold; and a splendid gold helmet fashioned from a single sheet of metal and beaten into the form of a head of wavy hair with a chignon at the back (c.2500 B.C.; Baghdad).

At Lagash a strongly modeled head of stone (c.2500 B.C.) portrays a Sumerian man, clearly representing the structural type of these ancient people. Its large and widely spaced features set on a heavy round skull are revealed in bas-relief and inlay work of the period. Examples of the famous votive stone sculptures of Sumer discovered at Tell Asmar represent tall, long-haired, bearded figures with huge, staring eyes and long, pleated skirts, standing rigidly with hands folded above the waist. Some are portrayed kneeling.

The ziggurat temple form was the most striking architectural achievement of the Sumerians. One ziggurat at Erech extended over an area of half a million square feet (46,500 sq m). It was set upon a mound, and the platform built to support its crowning shrine was 40 feet (12 m) high.

Among other Sumerian arts, one of the most sophisticated was the cylinder seal, a small carved cylinder of stone or metal that, when rolled over seals of moist clay, would leave the reverse image of its carving in relief as an identifying mark or signature. Used to mark documents and property, the cylinders were worn on a wristband or necklace during their owners’ lifetime and were buried with them. A great many examples survive, bearing primarily scenes of religious ritual, often portraying the legendary hero Gilgamesh.

With the ascent to power of Sargon of Akkad, Sumerian art reached new heights of expression, particularly in sculpture. The greatest known examples reflecting that splendor include a bronze head thought to be a portrait of Sargon himself (from Nineveh, c.2300 B.C.; Iraq Mus., Baghdad), from which the gemstone eyes have been stolen, and the stele of Naram-sin, a triumphal relief showing the deified grandson of Sargon in battle (2261–24 B.C.; Louvre). The Akkadians spread cuneiform writing throughout the Middle East, and even after the destruction of Sargon’s empire by invasions from the east in the latter part of the 3d millennium B.C., Sumerian artistic techniques and styles exerted profound influence on contemporary and later cultures. The city of Lagash survived the invasions and was beautified by its governor Gudea with numerous works of art. These were carved of dark, hard diorite; many represented the dignified and serene seated figure of Gudea himself. Although most are small in stature, they convey a sense of grandeur and monumentality. After the invasions the glory of Sumer was revived from 2200 to 2100 B.C. During this period the great ziggurat of the moon god at Ur was built.

Invasions of Semitic peoples from what are now Iran and Syria ended the last Sumerian golden age. The site of Mari has yielded the most complete archaeological evidence of Sumerian civilization during that transitional time. The great Mari royal palace with its labyrinthine corridors, frescoed walls, royal residential rooms, courts and temple buildings, and scribal school containing more than 25,000 cuneiform tablets, reveal the brilliance of a vanished world.

History of Akkadia

During the 3rd Millennium BC, the Sumerians and the Akkadians lived peacefully together and created conditions for a common high civilization.

A few centuries later the first Akkadian king, Sargon of Akkad, ruled over an empire that included a large part of Mesopotamia. The ancient name Akkadian is derived from the city-state of Akkad. It appears that Semitic speaking people had lived for centuries amidst the Sumerians and gradually became an integral part of the Sumerian culture. We don’t hear much about them in the first part of the 3rd millennium, because the scholarly language used in writing at that time was Sumerian.

Akkadia was founded by Sargon I when he conquered Sumeria. Sargon reigned from 2334 to 2279 BCE, and during those fifty-five years Akkadia became the world’s first empire. During his reign, the Akkadian language became the lingua franca of the region. Along with the language came the Semitic culture it represented. The Biblical Shinar, the home of the tribe of Terach, father of Abraham, about 2400 BCE, was ancient Akkadia. It later became Babylonia, and it is now (roughly) Iraq. The art of glassmaking was born in Akkadia. It was a Semitic, and then a Jewish, art for the next three millennia. Glassmaking was unique among the arts, for it was invented only once in all of human history. Its spread through the world was parallel to, and coincident with, the dispersal of the Jews.

Akkadian is one of the great cultural languages of world history. Akkadian (or Babylonian-Assyrian) is the collective name for the spoken languages of the culture in Mesopotamia, the area between the rivers Euphrates and Tigris. Deciphered in the 1850s, Akkadian is the medium of innumerable documents from daily life as well as a vast literature, including the famous Epic of Gilgamesh, the quest of a man for eternal life.

Akkadian, the oldest known member of the family of Semitic languages, succeeded Sumerian as the vernacular tongue of Mesopotamia and was spoken by the Babylonians and Assyrians over a period of nearly two thousand years. It was written in the cuneiform script invented by the Sumerians, and the surviving documentation covers the period from 2350 BC to the first century AD. The oldest known writing system employed by Semitic-speaking peoples is cuneiform. It was adopted by the Akkadians ca.2500 BC from the Sumerians, whose language was not a Semitic tongue.

The city of Babel is thought to have been Babylon and the word babel comes originally from the Akkadian Bab-ilu meaning “gate of God”.

The earliest surviving inscriptions in the language go back to about 2,500 BC and are the oldest known written records in a Semitic tongue. The Semitic languages are named after Shem or Sem, the oldest son of Noah, from whom most of the languages’ speakers were said to be descended.

By the first century AD Akkadian had become an extinct language replaced as a spoken language by Aramaic.

Ancient Pyramids


As is well known there are literally hundreds of pyramids of various styles scattered over the Earth, in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Far East, Southeast Asia and South Pacific, and in North and South America. A few of these sites demonstrating the different styles are:

  • Iraq: The reconstructed ziggurat-pyramid at Ur, in ancient Sumer.
  • Egypt: The step pyramid at Saqqara.
  • Egypt: The smooth-walled pyramids at Giza. Hancock and Bauval (1996) suggest that the ‘ground plan’ of the three great pyramids was physically established in 10,500 bc, but that the pyramids were built around 2,500 bc. This supports the notion that the pyramid base rock with its underground chamber was an early AA terminal, and the Sphinx was the associated landmark easily identified from space.
  • Mexico: The highly decorated step pyramids at Chichen-Itza, Monte Alban, and elsewhere. In the Temple of Inscriptions at Palenque, a shaft runs from the tomb up to the temple floor, similar to some of the Egyptian pyramids. There was initially a 40 ft “comb” on the top. Was this an additional identifying marker?
  • Mexico: The unusual elliptical pyramid at Uxmal.
  • Mexico: The huge, unexcavated pyramid at Cholula (Fig 4-1), in the shadow of the volcano, Popocatepetl (“El Popo”). Its ancient name, Tlachihualtepetl, means “man-made mountain”. On Quetzalcoatl’s pilgrimage his first stop was Cholula, which means ‘the place of flight’ in Nahuatl. The huge “Piramide Tepanapa”, 200 ft high and 1300 ft on a side, is the largest ancient pyramid in the Americas, and possibly the largest in the world. The earliest construction has been traced to 200 bc. It was covered with dirt to hide it from the invading Spaniards and a small shrine was placed at the top, which the Spanish replaced with a church (Fig 4-1). The small portion which has been excavated reveals remarkable masonry.

  • Mexico: Tres Zapotes, an Olmec site (1300 – 400 bc), was the first adobe-brick pyramid site in Mesoamerica. (Mystery buffs please note: Before the arrival of Cortez ALL of the Olmec sites were destroyed, except El Tijin, which had been abandoned!)

  • Mexico: The truncated cone pyramid of Cuicuilco. In 1917 Manuel Gamio, excavating off the road from Mexico City to Cuernavaca, found an overgrown hill called ‘Cuicuilco’ enveloped by pre-historic lava streams. It turned out to be an enormous ancient pyramid or truncated cone with four galleries and central staircase. It is one of the few remaining round stepped pyramids. The base is 370 ft and it is about 60 ft high now, although it was originally much higher. Archeologist Paul Heinrich reports the age to be 800 to 600 bc, not 6000 bc as reported by others. (Miller, 2000)
  • Mexico: The beautiful miniature pyramid at Cecilia, D.F.
  • Mexico: The platform-pyramids at Teotenango, Tenayaca, and Tula.
  • Mexico: The multi-platform style of the Pyramid of the Sun, Teotihuacan. In his discussion of Teotihuacan, John Michel (1995) quotes another researcher: “During the 1970s Hugh Harleston, Jr …established that ‘the basic unit of measurement at Teotihuacan was 1.0594 meters, the same unit which represents the ‘Jewish rod’ of 3.4757 ft., the same unit which represents the width of the Stonehenge lintels, a six-millionth part of the earth’s polar radius…’”
  • Guatemala: The huge pre-classic (150 bc-150 ad) Mayan site of El Mirador with its dozens of pyramids, including the Tigre Pyramid rising 18 stories high, probably the largest pyramid ever built by the Maya.
  • Peru: Moche Temple of the Sun. The earlier Moche built this temple-pyramid style pyramid from 140 million adobe bricks.
  • Peru: Sipan Pyramid. This Moche pyramid-tomb near the town of Sipan proves that some of the early SA pyramids were tombs, as in Egypt and Mesoamerica.
  • Peru: Pyramids of Cahuachi. A ceremonial site comprised of six pyramids, the highest being about 70 ft, overlooking a walled court of 4050 sq yards. (Morrison, 1988). Hadingham (1987) mentions that the “great temple” was a stepped pyramid. He quotes Helaine Silverman’s estimate that the period of most activity at Cahuachi was short lived, about 200 years, and the site was mysteriously abandoned around 200 ad, along with other several other important sites.
  • Peru: The pyramids of Tucume. “Covering over 540 acres and including 26 major pyramids as well as myriad smaller structures…first built around 1100 ad by people of the Lambayeque culture…” The largest of the adobe brick pyramids, Huaca Larga, is 2300 ft long, 910 ft wide and 65 ft high. (Heyerdahl, 1995). Robert Schoch (1999) writes, “The largest of the pyramids, called Tucume…was only a little over 200 feet high, but it contained one-third more volume that the Pyramid of Khufu at Giza.”
  • Peru: Huaca del Sol, Moche Valley. This is a 120 ft high pyramid on the Peruvian north coast. The 1.5 million mud brick pyramid is the largest man-made mound in SA. Facing Huaca del Sol across the main plaza was a smaller mound, Huaca del Luna. The site lies at the foot of Cerro Blanco, an obvious landmark from space for this ceremonial/feeding center (Hadingham, 1987)
  • Bolivia: The Akapana platform-pyramid at Tiahuanaco. The Bolivian archaeologists date the site to 1580 bc. The Akapana measures 688 ft on a side and is 49 ft high. “The earthen interior was shaped like a stepped pyramid and faced with fitted stones.” (Demetrio, 1983)
  • Java: Cani Sukuh pyramid, resembling the Mexico pyramid style (Childress, 1996). Who carried this style across the Pacific?
  • Ryukyu Islands: The Yonaguni underwater pyramid. This unique step-pyramid-platform, 240 ft long and 90 ft high, resting 75 ft underwater, has been dated to 8000 bc! (Dopatka, 2000)
  • China: The White Pyramid, near Xi’an. Hartwig Hausdorf (1998) says there are 90-100 pyramids in China, near Xi’an, the tallest being about 200 ft. Xi’an incidentally is the site of the amazing ‘Terracotta Army’ of Qin Shi Huang.
  • Polynesia: “modest pyramids” at Tongatabu; a temple-pyramid on Tahiti; the Langi stepped pyramid-platform at Tauhala (a large stone, 24 x 7 ft and weighing 30-40 tons, is in the wall).
  • Ancient pyramids are also found on Samoa and Java. (Childress, 1996)
  • Greece: Pyramid of Hellinikon, near Argos. The author writes, “…built in the style reminiscent of cyclopean walls…” Its base is 15 x 13 meters, and the tallest wall still standing it only 14 ft. From the photos it probably would have stood about 10 meters high when completed. Thermoluminescent analysis of the pyramid in 1997 yielded a construction date of 2720 bc, older than the archeologists state for the Cheops pyramid! (Tsoukalow, 2000)
  • Canary Islands: The pyramids of Guimar. Thor Heyerdahl writes, “…They were painstakingly built step-pyramids, constructed according to similar principles as those of Mexico, Peru, and ancient Mesopotamia.”
  • United States: Monk’s pyramid-mound at Cahokia, Illinois, a mud brick platform-pyramid. A large stone wall or room has recently been discovered inside the mound, but has not been excavated as of Oct 2000.
  • Yonaguni: Situated between the East China Sea and the Philippine Sea, about 300 miles from Okinawa, is the island of Yonaguni-Jima. Off it’s coast is a huge apparently manmade (god-made?) monument about 100 ft below the surface. Its a platform pyramid 600 ft wide, 90 ft high constructed of precisely hewn megalithic stones. The pyramid, apparently a part of a ceremonial center, has been dated to 8000 bc, 5000 years before the oldest pyramid in Egypt!

The best clue we have that the gods orchestrated the pyramid building is the tale of Gudea who built the temple-ziggurat at Lagash (apparently the god Kothar-Hasis was the only one authorized to design the temples. He was likely the same “Greek divine craftsman Hepahaestus” who built the temple-abode of Zeus, and the Egyptian god Thoth). For Ninurta’s temple at Lagash Gudea was given elaborate and continuous instructions by the gods. He built a seven-tier ziggurat, named Eninnu, referring to a ingenious tablet which gave a plan view and 7 scales – one for each tier (Zecharia Sitchin describes this story in detail in his 1976 and 1993 books. See also figs 748, 749 of Pritchard, 1969).

Zecharia Sitchin makes an interesting connection with his statement that the three great pyramids of Giza are at 52 degree, but the later pyramids collapsed at this angle and were built at 43.5 degrees, and he maintains that the pyramids at Teotihuacan are also at 43.5 degrees. Furthermore “although the 2nd pyramid at Giza is shorter than the Great Pyramid, their peaks are at the same height above sea level because the 2nd one is built on higher ground; the same holds true at Teotihuacan where the smaller Pyramid of the Moon is built on ground some thirty feet higher than the Sun Pyramid, giving their peaks equal height above sea level.” We should note here also that both the Great Pyramid at Giza and the Sun Pyramid at Teotihuacan have a descending shaft burrowed into the bedrock on which the pyramids were built.

One of the problems in choosing a landing site for a vertical-lift aircraft is the dust and dirt generated by the exhaust. Before pyramids were built this problem was apparently minimized by landing on large rock outcrops.
The problem is better solved however by landing on step pyramids, or step platforms, since the tiers at each level would effectively deflect the exhaust.

The ziggurats at Urand Babylon, the Zoser pyramid in Egypt (Fig 4-4), the Canary Island pyramids, and most of the Mexican pyramids and South American pyramids, employed this design.

Interestingly some of the Egyptian pyramids have multiple chambers which seem to have been built over periods of time, e.g. Sneferu’s pyramid has an underground chamber, a 2nd chamber near the surface, and a 3rd chamber up in the pyramid, as if the site was in use before, possibly long before, the pyramid was erected, probably as a landing and feeding site. The chambers of the Great Pyramid also follow this pattern; the 1st one being deep underground, then the 2nd (‘Queens’) chamber built low in the center of the pyramid, and the 3rd (‘Kings’) chamber higher up. This pattern suggests that one goal was to provide continuous and increasing degrees of protection from above.

The pyramids of Mycerinus, Unas, Teti and most others also had underground chambers. In fact the pyramids of Mycerinus and some others did not even have chambers in the pyramids themselves – all chambers were underground! Obviously this design would make excellent bomb shelters, and I suspect that the large pyramids, and any hapless occupants, if they had been located at “ground zero” at Hiroshima or Nagasaki, would have survived. The pyramidal shape would have effectively deflected most of the blast wave and fireball, and the neutron and gamma-ray pulses would have been attenuated to negligible levels by the stone mass.

Zecharia Sitchin (1985) offers a rather fantastic function for the pyramids of Giza: that they were built by the Nefilim, not by mankind, as part of a guidance grid for “the Tilmun spaceport”. He develops a theory that ties the pyramids and the “sacred cities” into a guidance and communication grid for two approach corridors, one west-to-east over Mesopotamia and one west-to-east over the Sinai. “Built by the gods (Anunnaki), they were landmarks and beacons for the spaceport in Sinai, and existed long before kingship began in Egypt.
” The great pyramid was “…the mountain by which Utu ascends…”.

Regarding the Giza pyramids some scholars argue that the stones were pulled up long ramps on sleds, referencing the familiar painting from the tomb of Djehutihotepe of 204 workers moving his 60 ton statute on a sled (Fig 4-5). But this only proves that this statue was moved on a sled. I am not aware of a single image or inscription which depict the methods used to construct the great pyramids. We simply do not know how it was done.

Incidentally Mark and Richard Wells (2000) have discovered an amazing similarity in the alignment and size of the three stars in Orion’s belt and the alignment and size of the major pyramids at Giza, Egypt; Xi’an, China; Teotihuacan, Mexico. Don’t miss their essay.

So we have pyramids of heights ranging from 30 ft to over 400 ft, lengths from 100 ft to 2300 ft; some with inner chambers and some solid throughout; stepped and smooth walled; square, round and elliptical bases; stone, mud and adobe brick construction; highly decorated or plain; some topped with small buildings.

From these various styles, sizes, and composition I think we can conclude that the pyramids had several functions: burial sites, landmarks, landing sites, feeding stations, bomb shelters, and ceremonial sites; and there is evidence that many of them served several functions simultaneously. But one thing seems certain – the pyramids, platforms and mounds around the world were places where the gods and mankind came together.