Early History of Capital PunishmentPrimitive SocietyDeath penalty has very old roots; in fact, there is evidence of its application even in peoples such as Babylonians, ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans. It is still applied in many developed countries such as the U.S.A. Death penalty was widely applied among primitive peoples. The phrase 'capital punishment' comes from the Latin word for "the head". However, no witnesses of written criminal codes are left to prove its evidence with primitive people as laws in primitive times were handled orally. Chiefs or other delegates applied such punishment in a subjective and arbitrary way. Capital punishment was applied mainly for crimes such as murder or theft, and probably for high treason and sacrileges. The roots of death penalty are as primitive as early civilizations. The Babylonian civilization started in the XIX century B.C. and finished in the VI century B.C., when Babylonia became a province of Cyrus's Persian Empire.
The Babylonians were a Mesopotamian people; at the age of their maximum expansion, under Hammurabi's dominion (1792-1750 B...C.), they occupied the whole Mesopotamia, the plain where the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers flow, the present Iraq. The important innovation in the history of law and punishment was the appearance of the first written code, the Hammurabi Code. In this code, capital punishment is widely provided for crimes such as theft, murder and wrongs at work i.e. if a builder builds a house, which is not solid, gives way and kills the householder, this builder must be killed. Written code was in a way great achievement because arbitraries and subjectivity are deleted but it still was circumstantial. The code is written on three horizontal columns of cuneiform writing: 16 columns in 1 side of the stele and 28 in the other one. Divided in 28 paragraphs,