Assyrian Laws

Middle Assyrian Laws (Tablet A). 12th century B.C.E. Burnt clay, Museum of the Ancient Near East, National Museums in Berlin. Photograph by Olaf M. Tessmer.

From 1902-1914 the German Oriental Society excavated at Kalah Shergat, the site of the city of Ashur, the ancient capital of Assyria. There they found three tablets: designated as A, B and C. The total amount of text on the tablets is meager but Tablet A addresses punishments for offenses against women, Tablet B has twenty laws dealing with real estate and Tablet C covers eleven situations dealing with debt and personal property. These law collections were written in cuneiform, a writing system used by many Mesopotamian civilizations, including the Sumerians, Akkadians, Babylonians, Elamites, Hittites, Assyrians, and Hurrians. Millions of cuneiform tablets have been excavated in modern times, but only a small percentage have been read or published.

For more information, see Law Collections from Mesopotamia and Asia Minor 2nd ed. by Martha T. Roth. SBL Writings from the Ancient World Series, vol.6. Atlanta: SBL Press, 1997.

Middle Assyrian Laws (Tablet A). 12th century B.C.E.

A region notable for its early ancient civilizations, geographically encompassing the modern Middle East, Egypt, and modern Turkey.

A term from late Antiquity, it refers to the western-most part of Asia, bordered by the Black, the Mediterranean, and Agean Seas, in what is now modern-day Turkey.

A region in northern Mesopotamia whose kings ruled most of the ancient Near East in the 8th and 7th centuries B.C.E.

People from the region of northern Mesopotamia that includes modern-day Iraq, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon.

Residents of the ancient Mesopotamian city of Babylon, also used to refer to the population of the larger geographical designation of lower Mesopotamia.

The writing system of ancient Mesopotamia, consisting of wedges pressed into clay.

Dug up, often from an archaeological site.

The third division of the Jewish canon, also called by the Hebrew name Ketuvim. The other two divisions are the Torah (Pentateuch) and Nevi'im (Prophets); together the three divisions create the acronym Tanakh, the Jewish term for the Hebrew Bible.

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