Curses in Near Eastern Literature

Code of Hammurabi, Babylonian, c. 2250 BCE
The code of Hammurabi lays out several stipulation for future rulers to follow. It invokes various deities to bring wrath upon those who do not heed Hammurabi’s instructions.

View the stele of the Code of Hammurabi online at the Louvre.

Naram-Sin Treaty, Mesopotamian, c. 2250 BCE
This treaty between the king of Akkad and the king of Elam states an alliance between the two countries which is bound by the god. Like many such treaties, curses are mentioned, though it is unclear what role they play.

View a picture of this treaty at Wikimedia Commons.

Sefire I, Assyrian, date unknown
A treaty which stipulates a number of curses for those who violate the agreement.

Vulture Stele, Sumerian c. 2500 BCE
This stele compels the obedience of the city of Umma by invoking the wrath of the gods Enlil, Ninhursag, Enki and others for those who disobey a treaty.

View the Vulture Stele online at the Louvre.


Note: Some of  these curses have been sourced from Donald L. Magnetti’s “The Function of the Oath in the Ancient Near Eastern International Treaty” in The American Journal of International Law 72 (1978).