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Timeline of known cuneiform laws
ca. 2350 BC - Reforms of Urukagina of Lagash
ca. 2050 BC - Code of Ur-Nammu (or Shulgi?) of Ur
ca. 1900 BC - Code of Lipit-Ishtar of Isin
ca. 1800 BC - Laws of the city of Eshnunna (sometimes ascribed to king Bilalama)
ca. 1750 BC - Code of Hammurabi
Lex talionis (law of retaliation)
Eye for an eye
Martin Luther King Jr. "An eye for an eye leaves everyone blind"
Urukagina: He is best-known for his reforms to combat corruption
he exempted widows and orphans from taxes;
compelled the city to pay funeral expenses (including the ritual food and drink libations for the journey of the dead into the lower world);
decreed that the rich must use silver when purchasing from the poor,
if the poor does not wish to sell, the powerful man (the rich man or the priest) cannot force him to do so.
Urukagina's code limited the power of politicians. He governed government. The text describing Urukagina's reforms is also the first known use of the word freedom, in this case the Sumerian ama-gi.
Ama-gi is an ancient Sumerian word thought to mean "freedom". It is believed to be the first instance of humans using writing to represent that concept. Literally translated, it means "return to the mother", for reasons unknown.
Urukagina freed the inhabitants of Lagash from usury, burdensome controls, hunger, theft, murder, and seizure (of their property and persons). He established freedom. The widow and the orphan were no longer at the mercy of the powerful man.
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