A lot of ink has been spilled covering the lives of history's most influential figures, but how much of the forest is lost for the trees? In Charles River Editors' Legends of the Ancient World series, listeners can get caught up to speed on the lives of antiquity's most important men and women in the time it takes to finish a commute, while learning interesting facts long forgotten or never known.
The Babylonians were one of the earliest of history's great ancient civilizations, and the most famous Babylonian of them all was Hammurabi, who came to the throne as the first king of the Babylonian empire around the beginning of the 18th century BC. Hammurabi had a long and fruitful reign that saw him consolidate most of Mesopotamia under his control, but he's best known today for Hammurabi's Code, one of the earliest known code of laws in human history. Inscribed on stone tablets, Hammurabi's Code was found over 3,500 years later, in the early 20th century, making him one of antiquity's most famous men.
Babylonian culture, including art, architecture, and literature, flourished during his reign, and Hammurabi (or the scribes in his employ) wrote enough public royal inscriptions and personal official letters to store in museums across the world. There are also many letters from other contemporary rulers that make reference to him or to significant events during his reign. The large amount of documentation available, both from and about him, has allowed modern scholars to paint a colorful picture of the famous king and the various facets of his life.
Although there is no information on the age of Hammurabi when he took the throne, he ruled Babylon for 43 years, from 1792-1750 BC, when he became gravely ill and handed the throne to one of his sons, Samsu-iluna.