Legal systems, their development, uses and importance in Egypt and Mesopotamia

Essay by daniel_510High School, 12th gradeA-, October 2007

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Legal systems are one of the essential parts of having a major civilization. With legal system rulers are able to control the masses while keeping a controlled status. With these commoners are aware of what are the consequences if they do not follow the determined set of laws. Most of the ancient civilizations legal systems were based in a totalitarian form of rule, meaning that one single person had supreme power over everyone. Such was the case for Egypt, but not for Mesopotamia which had less distinct social hierarchies. Although ancient legal systems are considered inhumane, it is clear that both the legal systems of Egypt and Mesopotamia were necessary in order to maintain stability and control of the population.

Egyptian laws are based on the principle of common sense. Instead of having such a rigid law system the Egyptians opted on following the codes based on the concept of “Ma’at.”

The Ma’at represented order, balance, truth, and justice in the universe. This allowed that anyone except for slaves and nobles were seen as equal by law. Although the Egyptians tried to express equality through their laws, it was the Pharaoh considered as a living god who was the supreme judge and lawmaker whom had the supreme authority over everyone. This meant that Egypt would so be called today a totalitarian form of government. Furthermore, it was men with the exception of some women that had complete authority over the legal system. Usually after someone died, property was often divided between the male and female children. Most of the laws were based on “cause-and-effect” due to the fact that if you committed a crime you were often had to complete a punishment that by today’s standard would be inhume. Although legal systems in Egypt were a not fair they set...