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The social and economic system of Babylonia

15 Mar

BabyloniaThe economy, social and political system of the Babylonian state in the reign of Hammurabi is known due to the preserved code of laws of this king, his correspondence with governors and officials and private-law documents.

The publication of the laws was a serious political undertaking by Hammurabi, aimed at consolidating his vast power. The code of laws is divided into three parts: the introduction, the text of the laws themselves and the conclusion. He is the most important source on many sides of the life of the Babylonian society of the first half of the 18th century. BC. E.




The economy of the Babylonian time state Hammurabi was based on the further development of irrigation farming, horticulture, cattle breeding, diversified crafts, foreign and domestic trade.

In the time of Hammurabi, there has been an expansion of crop areas (development of fallow and virgin lands), the flourishing of such an intensive industry as gardening (breeding of a date palm), obtaining large harvests of cereals (barley) and oilseeds (sesame) crops. To a large extent, this was achieved by expanding the irrigation network throughout the country. Special officials were required to strictly monitor the status of large and small channels. From documents of the archive, Marie shows that all the people able to work – from the free to the slaves – were involved in the performance of the irrigation duty, and for the evasion of it, the perpetrators were punished up to the death penalty. In Hammurabi’s laws, four articles specifically provide for various cases of negligence or inattention of a farmer-farmer to irrigation facilities on their site. In the event of their breaking through and flooding the neighbors’ field, he had to compensate for the damage, otherwise his property and himself were sold to compensate for the damage done to neighbors. The Babylonian king considered an important act to be the holding of a grand canal called the Hammurabi River, which was said to be the wealth of the people, bringing abundance of water to Sumer and Akkad.

Large-scale cattle breeding also developed. Repeatedly in the laws are herds of large and small cattle, donkeys, for the grazing of which are employed shepherds. Often cattle are given out for work on the field, threshing floor, transportation of weights.

The craft is represented by various professions: the builder of houses, ships, carpenter, carpenter, stone cutter, tailor, weaver, blacksmith, tanner. At the time, doctors, veterinarians, barbers, innkeepers were also categorized as vocational trades. To pay for artisans, Hammurabi’s laws established a firm fee, as well as a severe responsibility for the work done. If a builder has built a house for a person and made his work inefficiently, and the house he built, collapsed and killed the landlord, this builder must be executed, reads Article 229. The salary of the doctor depended on the patient’s belonging to this or that class of society and Respectively, increased or decreased. For an unsuccessful operation made to a free person, the doctor was severed by a hand (art. 218).

The development of trade was facilitated by the unification of the whole territory of Mesopotamia within the framework of a single Babylonian state and the concentration of all internal and external trade routes through the Tigris and Euphrates Valley in one hand.

The subject of exports from Babylonia was grain, dates, sesame oil, wool, handicrafts. Import consisted of metals, building stone and wood, slaves, luxury goods.

Trade was the subject of special concern of the state, and it was dealt with by special trade agents – tamkars, who led large state and own trade, and often carried it through smaller intermediary traders. For their service, the tamkars received land and garden plots, houses. They acted as tenants of the tsar land and community plots, and also often were large usurers. The most important shopping centers were Babylon, Nippur, Sippar, Larsa, Ur.

The structure of Babylonian society in the era of Hammurabi testifies to the increasingly manifest and developing slave-holding character of it. Laws have a sharply perceptible boundary between free citizens and slaves.

A free full-fledged citizen was called avilum – man. But free citizens, including large landowners, tamkars, priests, communal peasants, artisans, did not constitute one class, but were divided into a class of slaveholders and a class of small producers. Sudebnik Hammurabi only in one of the articles distinguishes between a man superior in status and inferior in status and determines the different degree of their responsibility for committing an offense. All articles of law protect private property of the propertied citizens and interests of slaveholders.

Since the bulk of the population of Babylonian society was made up of small producers and small proprietors, who gave the treasury considerable tax revenues and ensured the military power of the state, the laws reflected their rights. For example, some articles protect them from the tyranny of moneylenders: the latter were forbidden to take the harvest themselves as payment of debt; The amount of interest on the amount of debt was regulated (20% for borrowed silver, 33% – for a grain loan); Severely, until the death penalty, punishable abuse of the hostage; Debt bondage was limited to three years. However, it was impossible to stop the process of stratification of small producers: this class gradually disintegrated, replenishing, on the one hand, the class of slaveholders, on the other hand – slaves. The Starovavilon business documents retained a number of transactions involving the names of large moneylenders, for example Balmunamhe of Larsa, who often made exchanges and purchases of garden plots, apparently rounding up his possessions, acquired virgin lands, bought slaves, and bought from the needy mothers of their children. Often, transactions were also made for the hiring of children and younger brothers of impoverished fellow citizens.

In addition to free in Babylonian society, there was such a category as mush-kenums. The term muskenenum is translated as inclined to prostrate. The Mushkenums worked in the tsar’s household. Having lost contact with the community, they did not have land and property, but received it for royal service in conditional possession, besides had limited civil rights. Self-harm in respect of the Mushkenum was, as a rule, refunded as a monetary fine, whereas in respect of free persons, the principle of talion (an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth) was applied. The payment for the treatment of the Mushkenum was half that of the free man, etc. But it appears from the laws that the owned property and slaves, their rights as property owners were strictly protected, while their property was considered along with the property of the palace in whose service , They were.

The lowest class of Babylonian society was slaves (wardom). The sources of slavery were war, property stratification leading to debt bondage, the unequal position of family members under the patriarchal authority of the father, which gave him the right to pledge or sell them as slaves, self-selling into slavery, slavery for certain crimes (for example, The refusal of the adoptive parent, the squandering of the wife, the negligence of the community member with respect to the irrigation structure), and, finally, the natural reproduction of slaves. There were slaves privately owned, state (or palace), slaves of temple slaves. The average family had from 2 to 5 slaves. Sometimes in rich families their number reached several tens. Slaves were property, a thing of the owner: in case of their murder or self-mutilation, the owner was compensated for the damage or given slave for the slave.

The slaves were sold, bought, given away, given, abducted. They had a number of differences: they could be tablets on the chest, a special hairstyle, a brand, pierced ears. The slave’s widespread punishment was cutting his ear off. Slaves often escaped from the owners or tried to challenge their slavish condition, but for this they were severely punished. Those free citizens who helped runaway slaves hide slave signs or harbored them in their home, waited for a severe punishment: from cutting off the hand to the death penalty. The capture of a runaway slave was rewarded.

But at the same time, slavery in Babylonia had a number of peculiar features: slaves could have a small property, which the master ultimately controlled, could marry free women, while retaining their civil and property rights, children from such marriages were considered free. The slaveholder, who had children from the slave, could include them in the number of legitimate heirs of his property.

The Babylonian family was patriarchal and was dominated by the house-dyka – father and husband. Marriages were concluded on the basis of contracts and were accompanied by the bringing of a marriage gift from the groom, and on the part of the bride – a dowry. The wife retained the rights to her dowry, to the gifts of her husband, after his death, disposed of family property until the age of majority of children. Laws protected the honor, dignity and health of women, but cruelly punished for the ill treatment of her husband and wastefulness of slavery, and for violation of marital fidelity – death. The divorce or secondary marriage of the widow was hampered. The right to inherit parental property from straw to gold had all children of both sexes, but some advantage was given to sons.

The Babylonian state acquired certain features of the ancient Eastern despotism. At the head of the state was the tsar, who had legislative, executive, judicial and religious power. The fund of royal lands was vast: in Lars, for example, it was 30-50% of the cultivated area. But the structure of the state economy has fundamentally changed in comparison with the era of the III dynasty of Ur. The latter was characterized by the creation on a countrywide scale of a giant tsarist-temple economy, the functioning of which was provided by free (administrative personnel, artisans, warriors) and mostly slaves and servicemen who received a natural allowance from the treasury. For the period, other trends appeared to be economically promising: encouraging the community-private property sector and distributing royal lands, workshops, pastures for rent, or conditional holding for service to officials, soldiers, mummies, and so on.

The judicial department was formed. A prominent place in it was taken by the tsar’s court, which concentrated in its hands the basic judicial functions and markedly squeezed the temple court, the community court, the district court in the city, but they still retained some rights to solve family and criminal cases committed on their territory. The judges were united in the collegiums, they were also subordinated to heralds, messengers, scribes, who composed the judicial staff.

The Finance and Taxation Department was engaged in collection of taxes, which were collected in kind and in kind from the harvest, livestock, craft products.

The tsarist power relied on the army, formed from detachments of heavily and lightly armed soldiers – rheum and barium. Their rights and duties were defined in 16 articles of the Hammurabi laws. Warriors received from the state for service inalienable land allotments, sometimes with a garden, a house, cattle. Laws defended the soldiers from the arbitrariness of commanders, provided for their ransom from captivity, the provision of a warrior’s family. The soldier was obligated to regularly serve, for evasion from which he could be executed.

A huge bureaucratic apparatus, whose activities were strictly controlled by the tsar, carried out all his orders. At the same time, representatives of the tsarist administration had close contact with local authorities: community councils and village elders. Struggled severely in the administrative apparatus with bribery, bribery, indiscipline, laziness.

The creation of a centralized Babylonian state and the exaltation of Babylon were further reflected in the religious cult: at the head of the pantheon a local god, the patron of the city of Babylon Marduk, who was once one of the younger gods, was placed. Myths attributed to this god the functions of the demiurge – the creator of the universe and people, the king of the gods.

 
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Posted by on March 15, 2017 in Historical

 

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