The Stele of Hammurabi

Art History 235

The Stele of Hammurabi (c. 1792-1750 BCE) is both a piece of art and a code of law commissioned by the 6th King of Babylon, Hammurabi. The sculpture is a 7.4 ft. tall piece of diorite, the lower 3/4 of the stone smoothed as to allow The Code of Hammurabi (the laws and punishments he set forth) to be inscribed on it. The top quarter of the piece is a relief sculpture depicting Hammurabi receiving the code orally from the god of justice, Shamash. Many different aspects of the piece come together to create a sense of respect or fearful awe around this ancient Babylonia ruler.

The Code of Hammurabi has been found on various artifacts throughout Babylon and surrounding areas inscribed not only on stone, but on clay tablets. This statue then served as a functional piece of art, much like the inscriptions and text that can surely…

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