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Crime and Punishment according to a Neo-Babylonian Document from Babylon

Greta Van Buylaere

Pages 19 - 40

The single-column tablet A 2540+ was discovered in the Ištar temple in Babylon. Written in a summary fashion, it records the fates of two groups of prisoners. The first group consists of free citizens, slaves and temple dependants (mār banê, qallu and širku) who were brought to court from the governor’s prison (bīt kīli ša šakin ṭēmi); the second group, including slaves and temple dependants, had been held in the prison of Kudurru, the royal secretary (zazakku). The tablet does not offer a detailed description of the criminal offences that were or were not committed by the prisoners, but thefts and unspecified crimes against individuals are listed. Presumably, the investigation into their wrongdoings had closed, and they had been brought to the Ištar temple to hear their verdict. Those found innocent, were set free; the others (at least the slaves and temple dependants) were handed over to an institution, temple or person. The tablet was probably written in the reign of Nebuchadnezzar II.


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