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A History of Ancient Near Eastern Law (Handbook of Oriental by Raymond Westbrook, Gary M. Beckman

By Raymond Westbrook, Gary M. Beckman

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All three sources break the identity of the human victim down into the same set of further variants; whether the victim is a man, a son, or a slave. They also share the use of the same legal distinction: between an owner who was warned by the local authorities of his ox’s propensity to gore and one who was not. 4 The common features of these codes mark them as originating in the sphere of Mesopotamian science. The method of Mesopotamian scientific inquiry was to compile lists. We have seen above the use of this technique for lexical purposes and its application to legal words and phrases.

Even Egypt does not escape. For example, the technical phrase “his heart is satisfied” may be traced in contracts across the cuneiform 17 It is no coincidence that during the first millennium major intellectual and institutional shifts characteristic of a so-called “axial age” occur, with the rise of monotheism, skepticism, and republican and democratic forms of government (see Jaspers, Vom Ursprung . , chap. 1). Developments in the law follow, as ever, with some time lag. For a trenchant critique of this “developmental” approach, see Roth, “Reading Mesopotamian Law Cases .

Ra = ¢ubullu (MSL 5), most copies of which come from Assurbanipal’s library but which has forerunners dating back to the early second millennium. Their content overlaps that of ana itti“u. 8 They con- 8 See LOx, SLEx, and SHLF in Roth, Law Collections . , 40–54. WESTBROOK_F2_1-90 8/27/03 1:39 PM Page 11        11 tain a mixture of paragraphs: some appear to be excerpts from a law code; others are clearly clauses from standard contracts. The same mixture of law-code paragraphs and contractual forms is found in the Demotic Law Code of Hermopolis (P.

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