Some historians include among early codes the Book of the Covenant and the Book of the Law of the Old Testament. The ancient Greek city-states began codifying laws in the 7th century bc. The Laws of Gortyn, named after the ancient town of Gortyna, Crete, are regarded as the closest to a systematic statement of ancient Hellenic law. The Twelve Tables of ancient Roman law are often cited as a classic example of an early code. Other compilations of law include the Hindu Code of Manu, believed to date from about ad 400, and the code of the Chinese Tang dynasty, issued in ad 630.
Of all the codes of antiquity, that of the Roman emperor Justinian I, entitled the Corpus Juris Civilis (Body of Civil Law) and known as the Codex Justinianus, Justinian Code, or simply The Code, most closely resembles the codes of later times. It was in part a compilation and consolidation of statute law, but it lacked the systematic arrangement and the concentration on a single branch of the law, such as criminal law or civil law, which are essential features of later codes.