Assyrian Laws

Middle Assyrian Laws (Tablet A). 12th century B.C.E.

Middle Assyrian Laws (Tablet A). 12th century B.C.E. Burnt clay, Museum of the Ancient Near East, National Museums in Berlin. Photograph by Olaf M. Tessmer.

From 1902-1914 the German Oriental Society excavated at Kalah Shergat, the site of the city of Ashur, the ancient capital of Assyria. There they found three tablets: designated as A, B and C. The total amount of text on the tablets is meager but Tablet A addresses punishments for offenses against women, Tablet B has twenty laws dealing with real estate and Tablet C covers eleven situations dealing with debt and personal property. These law collections were written in cuneiform, a writing system used by many Mesopotamian civilizations, including the Sumerians, Akkadians, Babylonians, Elamites, Hittites, Assyrians, and Hurrians. Millions of cuneiform tablets have been excavated in modern times, but only a small percentage have been read or published.

For more information, see Law Collections from Mesopotamia and Asia Minor 2nd ed. by Martha T. Roth. SBL Writings from the Ancient World Series, vol.6. Atlanta: SBL Press, 1997.