- Museum number
Plaster cast of the stela of Hammurabi; plaster; coloured black in imitation of the original; inscription on lower portion, continued on all sides; upper portion of the face carved with scene of Hammurabi; complete.
- Production date
- 19thC BC
Height: 230 centimetres
Thickness: 40 centimetres (approx)
Width: 60 centimetres
- Curator's comments
A full account of the discovery, display and significance of the original stela is published by Beatrice Andre-Salvini, 'Le Code de Hammurabi', Musée du Louvre.
The present cast is one of two coloured casts of this object in the BM (2004; the second is currently at Blythe House); the second was made by BMCo as a plaster piece mould used to exist of it and made by directly moulding the original cast. A cast was formerly exhibited in the Babylonian Hall of the Iraq Museum (illustrated by F. Basmachi: 'Treasures of the Iraq Museum', Baghdad 1975, pp. 199, 401, no. 113). Others are displayed in the National Museum in Tehran (2001) and other collections.
Copy of former exhibition label on the plinth:
"CAST OF A BASALT STELE inscribed in ancient Babylonian characters with the Text of the Code of Laws which was drawn up by Hammurabi, a king of the 1st dynasty of Babylon, about B.C. 2200. On the upper part is a relief in which the king, standing in the traditional attitude of worship, with his right arm bared and raised, is represented in the act of receiving the laws from Shamash to Sun-god. The god wears the horned head-dress, symbolic of divine power, and he holds in his right hand the ring and staff, emblematic of sovereignty & dominion. From his shoulders rise flames of fire. The god is seated on a mystic throne and his feet are set upon the the mountains. On the lower part of the stele are 28 columns of text containing - (I) AN INTRODUCTION in which HAMMURABI enumerates the benefits which he has conferred upon the shrines and great cities of Babylonia and Assyria. (II) The text of 282 laws by which the Babylonians were ordered to regulate their affairs, both private and public, and their social relationships. (III) A blessing on the man who should observe these laws, and a series of curses upon any being or governor who should break, modify, or abrogate any of them. The stele was set up by Hammurabi in the temple of E-SAGIL in Babylon so that it might be consulted by any man who considered himself wronged or oppressed. It was afterwards carried away by an Elamite king to Susa, i.e. "Shushan the Palace" (Nehemiah 1.1) where four or five columns of the lower part of the text were erased, probably to make room for a long inscription of the king who removed it"
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
Babylonian Room, east wall
- Complete; coloured black in imitation of the original.
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Received from Louvre 5 March 1904 according to deposit-book entry in WAA when initially kept in the “Old Room”; registered as 1904-3-14,1. Acquisition reported in BM Return for 1905, pp.58-59. Original object found in three pieces by J. de Morgan during his investigations of the Acropole mound at Susa in December 1901.
- Middle East
- BM/Big number
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: 1904,0314.1