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Hammurabi, limestone relief; in the British Museum—Courtesy of the trustees of the British Museum; photograph, J.R. Freeman & Co. Ltd.
(flourished 18th century BC) Sixth and best-known ruler of the 1st (Amorite) dynasty of Babylon. His kingdom was one of several prominent realms in Babylonia. His desire to control the Euphrates River led him to conquer the cities of Uruk (Erech) and Isin in 1787 BC, but he gave up on further military campaigns in that area, turning instead to the northwest and the east in 1784. Twenty years of peace followed, and then 14 years of almost continuous warfare that resulted in a unified Mesopotamia. He used control of waterways (damming them to deny his enemies water or to create a flood by releasing them) to defeat his enemies. He also engaged in building and restoring temples, city walls, public buildings, and canals. His laws, collected in the Code of Hammurabi, demonstrated his desire to be a just ruler.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Hammurabi, visit Britannica.com.