Contracts are essential for a modern economy. They allow businesses to make and keep agreements and protect both parties' interests. The oldest known contracts are a testament to the importance of contracts throughout history.
Oldest contract clay tablet
The oldest known contract is a 4,000-year-old clay tablet found in modern-day Turkey. It is a marriage contract between a man named Laqipum and his bride, Hatala. The contract specifies the terms of the marriage, including the bride price, the dowry, and the rights and responsibilities of each spouse.
The contract was written in cuneiform, a writing system used in ancient Mesopotamia. It is written in Akkadian, the language of the Akkadian Empire, which was located in what is now Iraq.
The contract is dated to the 23rd century BC, during the reign of King Naram-Sin of Akkad. It is one of the earliest examples of a written contract that has survived to the present day.
The contract is significant because it provides insights into ancient Mesopotamia's legal and social practices. It also shows that contracts were used in various contexts, even in the early days of civilisation.
Other ancient contracts
Here are some other ancient contracts that are worth mentioning:
Code of Hammurabi
This is a Babylonian law code written in the 18th century BC. It contains 282 laws that govern a wide range of aspects of life, including contracts, property, and criminal law.
This law code was written in the 5th century BC in the city of Gortyn, Crete. It contains 600 laws that govern many aspects of life, including contracts, property, and family law.
The Roman law of contract:
The Roman law of contract developed over centuries and was codified in the 3rd century AD by Emperor Justinian. It is the basis for many modern contract laws.