Like any civilization, the Sumerians needed to have a form of government. They created a set of laws, leaders, and punishments for crimes. One Babylonian King, Hammurabi, made a set of laws called the Code of Hammurabi. There were 282 laws in total, conisting of both civil and criminal laws. The Code was constructed on the Patriarchal government, (a society based on men only), so the laws were often unfair to women. It was created on the principle saying that "the strong should not harm the weak". The Code has six main parts; family, slavery, professional, commercial, agricultural and administrative laws. The largest part of the Code is about the family, and deals with marraige, divorce, adultery, and the adoptions and inheritance of children. Execution was a common punishment for theivery and murder. Here are some examples of punishments following this Code:
1) If a person accuses another, the accused will go to the river and leap in. If he sinks in the river his accuser shall take possession of his house. But if the river proves that the accused isn't guilty, and he escapes unhurt, then he who brought the accusation shall be put to death, while he who leaped into the river shall take possession of the house that had belonged to his accuser.
2) If a son slaps his father, the son's hand shall be cut off.
3) If a wife belittles her husband, she will be tied up and will jump in the river. If she lives, she may return to her husband. If she dies, the husband may find a new wife.
4) If an architect builds a house, and later it falls and kills its owner, the architect will be put to death.
Sumer was a theocracy; it was governed by gods and people who believed that they were gods. The Kings had immense power over the people. They led armies, supervised work projects, and formed workers into armies. There was much warfare between the cities of Mesopotamia so large walls were built around them to provide protection from invaders and to make the people look stronger.
One king was Sargon, the leader of the Akkadians in Mesopotamia. He was the world's first empire king, and was the creater of military tradition. He conquered much of the land in Mesopotamia. His reign lasted from 2334 B.C.E. to 2279 B.C.E.