Tracing the Earliest Recorded Concepts of International Law: The Ancient Near East (2500-330 BCE). By AMNON ALTMAN. Legal History Library, Studies in the History of International Law, vol. 8. Leiden: MARTINUS NUHOFF PUBLISHERS, 2012. Pp. xxvi + 254. $149. [Distributed by E. J. Brill]
This volume, whose contents were originally published in slightly different form in The Journal of the History of International Law from 2004-2010, is intended to convey to students of law and political science the basic concepts underlying inter-polity relations in ancient Western Asia, with attention also given to the interactions of Egypt with this area during the Late Bronze Age.
In the absence of ancient treatises on international law, the author's approach to his topic is pragmatic: he has simply gone through the relevant (primarily) cuneiform sources to collect "practices that might have been regulated by some accepted rule" (p. xxv). He presents his results in five chapters. covering Early Dynastic Sumer, the Old Akkadian and Ur III periods, the Old Babylonian era (featuring the Mari documents), the Late Bronze Age (centered upon the Hittite treaties), and the Iron Age empires (Assyria. Babylonia. and Persia), respectively.
Altman provides excellent summaries of topics such as the expectation of a declaration of war between...