The oldest surviving written code of laws in the world, the Code of Hammurabi was a landmark in the development of the ideas of laws, justice and human rights. Although it massively favoured the rich – who generally suffered lighter punishments than the poor – it still actually gave the poor some rights for restitution for crimes committed against them.
The Code was brutal and bloodthirsty by modern standards – it was the first codification of the “an eye for an eye” principle – but it was a massive advance on the idea that judges made decisions and assigned punishments however they wanted. The Code of Hammurabi created the idea of consistency of outcome in legal cases. It is the foundation stone of all Western jurisprudence, and was a direct and strong influence on the law-makers who wrote the book of Leviticus and the later Roman legal codes.