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Abstract

Since its discovery and decipherment at the turn of the twentieth century, the inscription of the Law Stele of Hammurabi, popularly known as the Code of Hammurabi, has been one of the most important sources for study of ancient Near Eastern law. But the Stele is more than just the vehicle for its inscription: its text and imagery were designed, quite deliberately, to incorporate elements of performativity and memorialization that would have resonated in its Mesopotamian cultural setting. Through a never-ending cycle of performance and reception, the Stele publicized to its audience standards for justice while simultaneously preserving an enduring record of Hammurabi's commitment to just ways for the land.

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