HISTORY 1: FIRST SHORT PAPER ASSIGNMENT
In this paper you will analyze (not simply summarize) the assigned historical document
(see attached). The prompt and questions below are intended to guide your analysis of
DOCUMENT: HAMMURABI’S LAWS ON FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS
By the time of Hammurabi (r. 1792-1750 BCE), first king of the Babylonian Empire,
Mesopotamian marriages represented important business and economic relationships between
families. Hammurabi’s laws (one of the first written laws in human history) reflect a desire to
ensure the legitimacy of children and to protect the economic interests of both marital partners
and their families. While placing women under the authority of their fathers and husbands, the
laws also protected women against unreasonable treatment by their husbands or other men.
This document can also be found at http://avalon.law.yale.edu/ancient/hamframe.asp
PROMPT: In this class we discussed how the rise of writing was arguably a “revolution”
in human history. How is the document (“Hammurabi’s Laws”) “evidence” of writing’s
impact on human history? What evidence does the document give of the other
“revolutions” we have talked about in class (i.e. the rise of agriculture; the rise of the
What does this document tell you about the complex society that produced it (be
mindful of our discussion of the general characteristics of a complex society)? You might
want to keep in mind the purpose of these laws (why are they needed by this society)?
Also, try to think “historically” about the people that wrote these laws. That is you
should try to put yourself in their place and time. What do you think their reasoning was
in writing these laws (even the ones that are morally objectionable or make no sense to us
in the present)?
In your analysis of these laws, you may focus on one or more of the specific
features of Mesopotamian society:
• Gender relationships
• Social classes
• Property ownership
• Commercial activity and economics
• State institutions and government
• Social practices and structures
• Crime and punishment
Discuss whatever specific feature(s) you choose as they reflected in the individual laws.
You may also keep in mind that these laws are “epigraphic” – in that they include a
preamble by Hammurabi himself. How is Hammurabi “immortalized” by these laws?
How does this shape this law code’s meaning and significance?
This is not a “research” paper assignment therefore papers do not require any sources to
be cited (class notes and class texts are exceptions and may be referenced). Papers must
be grammatically correct, well-structured, and have citation of relevant texts and page
Papers should be 5-6 pages typed, double-spaced, with one-inch margins and
12-point font. Papers are due at the beginning of class on February 17, 2016.
Late assignments will be penalized 5% per weekday (i.e. Monday-Friday).
A successful paper will:
~ have a solid introduction with appropriate context that introduces the
~ analyze, not solely describe or summarize the document
~ be well organized with coherent paragraphs relevant to the topic
~ have a concluding paragraph that accurately and concisely summarize the main points
of the paper
~ adequately explain the central objectives at work in the
~ draw on appropriate evidence from your source to substantiate the claims
~ properly cite and punctuate quotations and evidence
|Academic Level||College (1-2 years: Freshmen, Sophomore)|
|Number of Pages||5 Page(s)/1375 words|