The University Museum, University of Pennsylvania

Ur-Nammu’s stela. This detail from the limestone stela of King Ur-Nammu of Ur (c. 2111–2094 B.C.) shows the king pouring a libation into a cult-stand from which a palm tree grows. The seated figure is the moon-god Nanna, patron-deity of Ur.

The oldest collections of casuistic laws (laws formulated in sentences that take the form “if X, then Y”) have been attributed to Ur-Nammu of Ur (or his son Shulgi) and Lipit-Ishtar of Isin. Similar laws in the Bible, most notably in Exodus 21–24 and Deuteronomy 19–25, echo these Sumerian casuistic laws.