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There were three main social classes distinguished in the Babylonia law codes:
- Awilu: The nobility or upper classes.
- Mushkenu: Free people not belonging to the upper classes, such as artisans.
- Wardu: Slaves.
The roles and rights of people from these different classes were quite different under the Code Of Hammurabi, the most famous of the ancient Mesopotamian law codes. For example, the penalties assessed for personal injury varied depending on the class of both the person committing the assault and the victim, with someone having to pay more money in reparations upon injuring a noble than upon injuring an artisan, and reparations to the owner for injuring a slave depended on the monetary value of the slave. In all cases, the assailant was required to pay medical costs. Men and women were also treated quite differently under the law, with different property rights and different penalties for adultery.
Although by twenty-first century standards the law code may seem barbaric and unfair in the way it discriminates by social class, we should note that for its period it was a major step forward in the administration of justice, casting the king as the protector of widows and orphans, and making sure the wealthy and powerful could not act with impunity.
Babylonia had many levels of hierarchy, the king was at the top and the slaves at the bottom. In the middle were nobles,the free citizens and those in millitary and civil service. although the class structure was rigid it was possible to move from one to another. the debtslave would pay his debts to regain his freedom but the foreign captive had only to escape or get killed.Thus there were three main social classes;
The Awilu- a free person of the upper class
the Wardu-These were the slaves who were prisoners of war and some were recruited from the Babylonian citizenry too maybe as punishment of certain offenses. also parents could sell their children to cater for their needs or a man would turn over his entire family to creditors in payment of a debt, but not for longer than three years.
The Mushkenu- a free person of low state who ranked well with the other two classes
the Babylonian law code was enacted by the sixth Babylonian king Hammurabi. The code consists of 282 laws with serious punishments as graded depending on social status of slave verses free man. About one half of the Code handles matters of contract establishing the wages to be paid for certain types of labour. Others codes set the terms of transaction establishing the liability of a worker for any bad occurrence in their work area. The third code deals with household and family relationships foe example divorce, paternity, and sexual behaviour. Just one provision imposes obligations on an official who reaches an incorrect decision; this provision states that a judge who reaches an incorrect ruling would be fined and removed from the bench permanently. other many provisions address issues related to military service.
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