The Hammurabi Codex: A Historical Perspective of Building Codes

by A. Dewanti P

“The Codes are made by the process of learning.”
Live SKetching the USTB Gymnasium. Author, 2018

Building and structures are one of harmless and sensitive case to be overall calculated as single figures. The overall structure that connects between Foundation, Column, Beams, Slabs, joints, and other components will need a deeply considerations toward the planning and designing. Overall, the standards for each component, materials, and even certain part of topic day by day increases due to the development need of infrastructures.

The all case will be very important, as builders know that the consequence of structure failure will overcome to damage and loss of lives. The effect will also impact not only the physically but also psychologically for humans and society. This is why the engineers are nowadays taking a lot of concern related to the Risk Assessment, reliability analysis, and even probability analysis. 

As in the 1750 B.C in Mesopotamia, the earliest code which contains some of building rule values here are written. It’s written on the stone carvings. This codex also contains many harsh consequence that may happen if a failure is discovered among it including to the consequence which is related to building structures.

In this codex, the responsibility of builders were defined based on the consequences of failure. If when the building collapsed has killed the owner’s son, then the builder’s son would be put to death. Then maybe, when the owner is the one who died due to the building failure, therefore the builder are the ones that takes this consequence. This creates a path that standards and rules to be followed as one of the things as lessons which is related to consequence, uncertainties, reliability, and probability for all case of procedures.

Now, the world are fitted by its own trust to the building codes that they made even categorized based on materials, or the method that they use. The most popular standard are standards from the International Standard Organization (ISO). Beside the building standards, all related to life procedures and standards are conducted and reviewed in this institution.

The others are namely American Concrete Institute (ACI) has developed many parts of standards for Concrete materials. Also, the Euro code based on European standards are known for some methods and standard designs. While, for Indonesian itself has its general standards which is the Standar Nasional Indonesia (SNI) with some more specific standards based on their institution. 

Everything should be checked and reliable to make sure that unwanted uncertainties and probabilities that may happen are to be zero. Which is in this case every standards in the world are also uncertain. Everything changes. Relatively, humans adjust and will try to make it reliable than before. Trustable and more precise to make sure that what is planned and designed are based on the lessons that they have learned before. Even, the standards are made by lessons in the past.

Reference: 
Andrzej S. Nowak, Kevin R. Collins. 2000. Reliability of Structures. New York: Mcgraw Hill Education.
https://www.history.com/topics/ancient-history/hammurabi accessed in 22nd of November 2018.

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