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Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences



Early Mesopotamian Law by Russ VerSteeg (Carolina Academic Press) using his unique knowledge of ancient texts and modern legal con­texts, VerSteeg synthesizes law in ancient Mesopotamia from its beginnings (roughly 3000 BCE) to about 1600 BCE. Early Mesopotamian Law examines key concepts from one of the world's oldest legal systems. The author explains Mesopotamian law using modern legal categories as points of reference in order to make the subject more accessible to the reader. VerSteeg breaks new ground in this "Early Mesopotamian Law". Most books about early Mesopotamia discuss Hammurabi and his "law collection' in isolation. There has never been an introductory text about Mesopotamian law in itself. This book is based on translations of literature, history and other texts.

The ancient laws have been arranged using modern topics, so criminal law, for example, is discussed in one chapter. These, however, are not bare bones translations, which would be overwhelming to most readers. VerSteeg has sifted through the formulaic jargon and phraseology of the laws and made the laws easier to read and understand. History teachers, ministers and lawyers will be interested in the 'jurisprudential' discussions of how these laws reflect the values and moral reasoning of their societies. This book is accessible to an educated general reader, without assuming previous knowledge of cuneiform languages like Akkadian or Old Babylonian, or a background in law.
Early Mesopotamian Law is the first book of its kind. It brings together information from many sources on Mesopotamian history - translations of ancient law collections and documents as well as mono­graphs, journal articles, and unpublished papers dealing with specialized aspects of Mesopotamian law. This book will be of interest to scholars of Near Eastern studies who wish to have a single volume covering the basics of early Mesopotamian law as well as to law students, lawyers, and anthro­pologists who are interested in the interaction of law, history, and culture.

Preface Maps Photographs
Chapter 1 Introduction
§ 1.1    Scope & General Approach
§ 1.2            Synthetic Approach
§ 1.3 A Word of Caution Regarding "Sources For Mesopotamian Law"
§ 1.4   Formulaic Patterns in Mesopotamian Legal Documents
§ 1.5 Summary
Chapter 2 The Law Collections ("Codes")
§ 2.1   Overview
§ 2.2    Urukagina's (Uru-Inimgina's) Reforms
§ 2.3 Ur-Nammu
§ 2.4    Lipit-Ishtar
§ 2.5  Eshnunna
§ 2.6 The Laws of Hammurabi
Chapter 3 Justice & Jurisprudence: The Role of Law
§ 3.1            Introduction
§ 3.2            Mythological Foundations of Jurisprudence
§ 3.3 Misarum
§ 3.4            Jurisprudence in the Law Collections

Chapter 4 Legal Organization & Personnel, & Legal Procedure
§ 4.1            Organization & Personnel
§ 4.2            Lawsuits: Trial Procedure
§ 4.3            Evidence
§ 4.4            Witnesses & Perjury
§ 4.5            Enforcement of Judgments
Chapter 5 Personal Status
§ 5.1            Citizenship & Status in General
§ 5.2 Women
§ 5.3    Slaves
Chapter 6 The Family
§ 6.1            Introduction
§ 6.2            Marriage
§ 6.3    Divorce
§ 6.4            Parents, Children, & Caregivers
Chapter 7 Inheritance & Succession
§ 7.1            Introduction
§ 7.2    Order of Succession: Sons First
§ 7.3            Inheritance by a Wife
§ 7.4            Inheritance by Female Child
§ 7.5    Death of Wife - Inheritance by her Children
§ 7.6 Inheritance by Children Where Remarriage Occurs
§ 7.7     Children of Female Slaves & Free Males
§ 7.8    Wills
Chapter 8 Criminal Law
§ 8.1     Introduction
§ 8.2     Homicide
§ 8.3    Theft Crimes
§ 8.4    Sex Offenses
§ 8.5    Military Crimes
§ 8.6  "Criminal" Trespass & "Criminal" Negligence
§ 8.7    False Witness/Perjury
§ 8.8   Miscellaneous "Crimes"
§ 8.9 Punishments
Chapter 9 Torts
§ 9.1    The Problem of Categorization (Battery, Negligence, Strict Liability
§ 9.2    The Influence of "Status" on Tort Damages
§ 9.3     Catalogue of Torts & Compensation
§ 9.4  Actual Warnings of Foreseen Dangers
§ 9.5    Failure to Maintain Property That Damages Another & Damage to Property
§ 9.6    Liability for Damage Caused by Oxen
§ 9.7    Physician's Liability
§ 9.8   Defamation Relating to Sexual Misconduct
§ 9.9 Affirmative Defenses to Tort: Assumption of Risk & Contributory Negligence
Chapter 10 Property
§ 10.1 Introduction: Private Property, Agriculture, and Irrigation
§ 10.2 Sale of Land, Prices, Deeds & Recordation of Real Property
 § 10.3 Lease of Fields
§ 10.4 Gardeners
§ 10.5 Liability of an Owner of Real Property & Trespass
§ 10.6 Slaves
§ 10.7 Miscellaneous
Chapter 11 Trade, Contracts, & Business Law
§ 11.1 Trade
§ 11.2 Contract Law
§ 11.3 General Business Law Index to the Law Collections General Index

Law in Ancient Egypt: An Introduction by Russ VerSteeg (Carolina Academic Press) draws on both traditional sources (e. g., documents such as contracts, wills, and records of ancient trials) as well as literary texts (e.g., The Tale of the Eloquent Peasant) to pres­ent a balanced view of law and the legal system in ancient Egypt. Part One provides a general introduc­tion and chapters that address matters such as justice (Maat) and jurisprudence. Part One also explains procedural law and details the structure of the legal system: the courts; judges; the Pharaoh; the Vizier; and other personnel related to the legal network. Part Two explores substantive law; including status in Egyptian law; family law; laws of intestate succession and inheritance by means of wills; criminal law and the law of torts; property law; and trade, contracts and commercial law.

 Law in the Ancient World by Russ VerSteeg (Carolina Academic Press) brings together four great ancient civilizations into one volume. Unit One covers Early Mesopotamia (Sumerian and Old Babylonian); unit Two chronicles law in ancient Egypt; unit Three provides an overview of law in Ancient Athens; and unit Four highlights Roman law. Each unit is divided into three chapters: an introductory chapter that presents background and a discussion of abstract theories of justice; a chapter that focuses on procedure and organization; and a final chapter that details substantive areas of law such as status, family law, inheritance, criminal law, torts, property, and contracts & commercial law.


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