Journal of Earth Sciences and Geotechnical Engineering

In Old Babylonia: Irrigation and Agriculture Flourished Under the Code of Hammurabi (2000-1600 BC)

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  • Abstract 

    After two centuries after the fall of the last Sumerian dynasty of Ur in 2003BC, the first kingdom of Babylon did appear. The Amorites who were Semitic people who had lived in the west of middle Mesopotamia brought the collapse of Ur itself. They appeared as nomadic clans ruled by fierce tribal chiefs, who forced themselves into lands where they needed to graze their herds. There was no Amorite invasion of southern Mesopotamia as such, but the Amorites ascended smoothly to power in many places, especially during the reign of the last kings of the Ur III dynasty, and so the following Amorite dynasty took over the rule of long-extant city-states such as Isin, Larsa, Eshnunna, and Kish and also established new ones. After a brief periods of an Elamites and old Assyrian empire dominations that took place for only 46 years the Amorite kingdom was firmly established in 2004 BC in Babylon and continued until 1595 BC, known in Mesopotamia’s history as the "Amorite Period". Babylon became the major power in the ancient world during the reign of Hammurabi. It was from then that all parts of southern Mesopotamia came to be known as Babylonia. It was during the reign Babylonia witnessed the great care he had devoted to maintain and expand irrigation networks and keep the prosperity of the empire and even so successfully constructing new canals and dams. When Hammurabi established control over the whole region of Mesopotamia by 1760, and especially the city-states of Sumeria, he restored the irrigation canals there to their best conditions and brought water back to areas of the south that were previously deprived of it. His unification of the entire south and the lands north of Babylon allowed him to dig long canals to the various cities of these lands. The canal he called “Hammurabi-is-the-abundance-of-the-people”, for example, ran by Nippur, Isin, Uruk, Larsa, Ur, and Eridu, and covered a stretch of land extending for a distance of some 160 kilometers. These works brought economic development and increased the wealth of the population to unprecedented levels. Hammurabi’s achievement as a lawmaker is specifically highlighted; as he was famous for his “Legal Code” which he had promulgated.

    Keywords: Old Babylonia, Irrigation and Agriculture, Hammurabi, Legal Code, Iraq.

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