Thursday, September 25, 2008

My Special Pet
I wish I had a nice little pet,
that's trained and very well taught.
Not the kinds that other kids get,
but a pet that I alone sought.
I'll clean her myself,
(no unpleasant scent)
I'll buy it myself,
to the very last cent.
With a cute, fluffy, tail,
and a snow White back,
and manicured nails,
and the rest is sleek black.
What a beautiful thing,
what joy it'll bring!
Its fragrance is such that poets will sing,
Oh Mom, Oh Dad,
I'd be most glad,
if you'd let me get
a skunk as my pet.

King of Four Quarters

Monday, September 22, 2008

He was called the “King of the Four Quarters” because his subjects believed his empire covered all the quarters of the world. He built an empire from the ancient city of Babylon three thousand eight hundred years ago. He was one of the most brilliant generals of his time. His name was Hammurabi.
In 1792 B.C., Hammurabi became the ruler of the city state of Babylon (see map), a minor city state among many that struggled for power over the fertile land of Mesopotamia, now present-day Iraq. The first few decades of Hammurabi’s reign were somewhat peaceful. During this time Hammurabi heightened the walls of his city. He also expanded the city temple. Despite this relative peace, Hammurabi still had many enemies. The city state of Eshunna ruled to the west. Farther east, the Elamites ruled from Susa (see map). To the far north, King Shamshi Adad was building his empire.

Hammurabi took over Mesopotamia by his strategic genius and his skillful use of a chain of key events. In 1766 B.C., the Elamites invaded Mesopotamia, destroying the kingdom of Eshunna. Then, they waged war against the city state of Larsa as well as Babylon. Hammurabi made an alliance with Larsa. He was a brilliant general, and used his army to crush the Elamites (though Larsa probably did not have a very big hand in that!).

After the war with the Elamites, Hammurabi became frustrated with Larsa’s lack of military contribution in their alliance. So, he attacked Larsa and defeated it. Soon the cities of Eshunna, Nippur, and Isin, and many others, were all under Hammurabi’s empire, and soon southern Mesopotamia was under his control.

After this conquest of southern Mesopotamia, Hammurabi turned to the north. At that time, King Shamshi Adad had died, and Hammurabi easily conquered northern Mesopotamia. It is possible that the main city of Mari surrendered without any fight! By 1750 B.C., Hammurabi had united all of Mesopotamia.

After conquering all the kingdoms in Mesopotamia, Hammurabi set about organizing and running his empire. He dealt with floods, changed flawed calendars, and managed Babylon’s huge herds of livestock. By far the greatest of his achievements was the development of the world’s first set of laws, known as the “Code of Hammurabi.” It was a detailed set of 282 laws he made, “…to bring about the rule of righteousness in the land,” as he put it.

It is quite important to know that unlike many laws made throughout history, these laws applied to everyone, without exceptions. Punishments and privileges varied according to a person’s class, but no one was completely above the law –not even a king. The laws often were very harsh, but the very fact that Hammurabi standardized a set of laws to be used throughout an entire region is remarkable.

Of the 282 laws, here are a few of them:

 If a person steals an object from the temple or the court, he, and the person who receives the object, will be killed.
 If someone caught a runaway slave and returned him to his master, the master must pay that person who found the slave two shekels of silver.
 Be it so a house collapses and someone is killed, the architect of the house would die.
 To pay off a debt, a man may offer his wife as a slave to the person he is in debt of.

In 1750 B.C., Hammurabi died. Hammurabi’s descendants continued to rule Mesopotamia until 1595 B.C., but none left quite the same legacy that Hammurabi had. He had built a powerful empire that stretched over much of what is now modern-day Iraq. He had established the world’s first known set of laws. Today, he is depicted in a marble-bas relief as one of the 23 lawgivers in the Capitol building of the United States of America. Maybe Hammurabi’s subjects were not so wrong in calling him “The King of Four Quarters.”

For a map of Mesopotamia and Hammurabi's Empire, see's_Babylonia_1.svg