Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Archeologists find evidence of a 4,000 year old beer tab

Being a lawyer and a life long amateur historian, I was vaguely aware of the law code of Ur-Nammu. He was a Mesopotamian king about 4 millennia ago. His laws pre-dated the more famous Hamurabi's Code by three centuries. Well, recent discoveries have shown just how advanced that civilization was. They had a statute to deal with paying your bar tab:

[T]he fact that this is the earliest known edition [of the law code of Ur-Nammu] allows researchers to compare it with later copies and see how it evolved. For instance, the copy sheds light on one of the oddest rules governing what you should pay a "female tavern-keeper" who gives you a jar of beer.

Apparently, if you have the female keeper put the beer on your tab during the summer, she will have the right to extract a tax from you, of unknown amount, in winter.

"If a female tavern-keeper gives [in] summer one beer-jar to someone on credit its nigdiri-tax will be [...] in win[ter]..." (Translation by Miguel Civil)

No word yet if Borepatch's beer tab in ancient Mesopotamia was as much as he used to run up at Pat's Tap Room in college.

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