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The most intact copy of these stelae was discovered in the 19th century by British Assyriologists, and has since been fully transliterated and translated into various languages, including English, Italian, German, and French.
The Old Testament dates back to 1280 BC and takes the form of moral imperatives as recommendations for a good society.
Latin legal maxims (called brocards) were compiled for guidance.
A general distinction can be made between (a) civil law jurisdictions, in which a legislature or other central body codifies and consolidates their laws, and (b) common law systems, where judge-made precedent is accepted as binding law.
Historically, religious laws played a significant role even in settling of secular matters, and is still used in some religious communities.
A Europe-wide Law Merchant was formed so that merchants could trade with common standards of practice rather than with the many splintered facets of local laws.
The Law Merchant, a precursor to modern commercial law, emphasised the freedom to contract and alienability of property.
Islamic Sharia law is the world's most widely used religious law, and is used as the primary legal system in some countries, such as Iran and Saudi Arabia.
The adjudication of the law is generally divided into two main areas.
Ancient Egyptian law, dating as far back as 3000 BC, contained a civil code that was probably broken into twelve books.
It was based on the concept of Ma'at, characterised by tradition, rhetorical speech, social equality and impartiality.
He said that, for example, "early customary law" and "municipal law" were contexts where the word "law" had two different and irreconcilable meanings.