October 4, 2012

8 - The Third Dynasty of Ur OR The Richest Man in Babylon

"When the exalted Anu, king of the Anunnaki, and Enlil, lord of heaven and earth, he who determines the destiny of the land, committed the rule of all mankind to Marduk, the chief son of Ea; when they made him great among the gods; when they pronounced the lofty name of Babylon; when they made it famous among the quarters of the world and in its midst established an everlasting kingdom whose foundations were firm as heaven and earth - at that time, Anu and Enlil called me, Hammurabi, the exalted prince, the worshiper of the gods, to cause justice to prevail in the land, to destroy the wicked and the evil, to prevent the strong from oppressing the weak, to go forth like the Sun over the black head race, to enlighten the land and to further the welfare of the people."
-Prologue to the Code of Hammurabi

(Aside from his famous laws, Hammurabi was a disco dancing machine.)

Episode 8 is looking great as we explore the early days of Babylon. Look at Hammurabi and Einstein go! Hah! I could watch them all day. Maybe I will...can't look away...

Also, stuff!
- Transcripts have been updated, and I've added a new page for a bibliography.
- Check out the new logo! Because my brother, Matt, thought he could do a better job than my slapdash photoshop work and you know what?? He's right. Damn fine work I say!

And to everyone who has rated the show and/or downloaded it...you have bumped me up into the top 10 history podcasts on iTunes. and that is AWESOME. Please continue to support the show and in return I'll make more episodes and dancing gifs. It's a deal!

MP3 Direct Link

Music Credits
ensemble de Organographia - "Hurrian Hymns 7 & 10"

Supplemental learning!
Map of the 3rd Dynasty of Ur. It's en francais but you still get the picture.
Another neat map showing the territorial influence of Ur III, but you might need to tilt your head for this one!
Map of the empires of Mesopotamia around 1400 BC...a bit later than what's covered in this episode, but it's a good visual aid to what's going on.
Foundation Figure of Ur-Nammu
Fragments of the law code of Ur-Nammu
Map of Babylonian Empire (Hammurabi)
Hammurabi, standing, receiving a gift from Shamash
Hammurabi, sans schnoz
Hammurabi, as he appears on the U.S. House of Representatives
Code of Hammurabi: side view
Code of Hammurabi: full stele
The full code of Hammurabi in Akkadian and English by Robert Francis Harper


  1. This is an absolutely fantastic podcast. I really enjoy the way you weave history, science (of all types) and myth together. The production value is way above any of the other podcasts I've listened to as well. This will surely become one of the most popular podcasts on the web, i'm glad I'm getting in NEAR the bottom floor. Also, as I teach an intro course on Western Civilization at a university, this is really good for me stealing some of your ideas! Congratulations on such a quality work.

    1. Since you honor me with such flattery you may help yourself to as much theft as you need! And glad to hear you're enjoying the show. I hope your predictions come true!

  2. Hi, the episode is marvelous! Thank you for your work on this podcast, it's the best I've seen so far. But what is that civilization that you omitted, called suspense/annoyance?

    1. I was intentionally leaving out the Egyptians :)

  3. Only one thing...

    I always hear the argument that to criticize things like suppression of females, slavery, exceptional brutality, and that like it to be unfair and inconsiderate of the culture of the times...however, this doesn't seem like a good argument.

    For instance, with Hamurabi, the very concept of fair justice means that they are cognizant of treating people good versus treating people bad. The very concept of alleviating debts means they are also cognizant of treating former enemies well (somewhat...it is a bribe, after all) The very fact that one would not vote to be a slave, or oppressed, themselves, means that they are aware that these things are bad, but still do them for what I might charge was cultural indoctrination in the manner of acting, but not excused.

    Why...because what of Hitler, who, arguably, existed not only in a time period where these things would have been unquestionably crimes, but in one of the leading nations of the world- comparatively. Yet, they still did it. The slavery and the quasi-genocides of the America's North American Indians. And these things continue to this day by people willing and ready to do them despite knowing that these things are bad. They don't wish such on themselves. It seems that morality is as present as brutality back then and now, and that for whatever reason, there is a choice to do these things, just as a man choses to kill another soldier in war. It's not the morality or the absence of consideration of morality, but those ideologies and convictions which erode and chip at what would seem s basic empathy- whether structural or immediate (like walking in on adultery)