This study of the long-term history of law-making aims at a better understanding of the cultural dynamics of human society as reflected in the efforts made to regulate human interaction. Through a systematic comparative study of 4,000 years of law-making, spanning from Sumerian laws to the Napoleonic Codes and beyond, certain general long-term changes are identi?ed. These long-term changes relate to the content as well as to the structuring principles of laws, f.ex. the emergence of equality before the law, the development of criminal law referring exclusively to victims, towards laws also referring to victimless crimes (and back again), and, moreover, the evolution of hierarchical structuring principles of laws. This is also a contribution to the discussion on long-term cultural change, in particular on the relation between societal change and increasing complexity of social interaction.