Slavery in antiquity

Slavery In Antiquity

Slavery in antiquity

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Slavery in the ancient world, specifically, in Mediterranean cultures, comprised a mixture of debt-slavery, slavery as a punishment for crime, and the enslavement of prisoners of war.

The institution of slavery condemned a majority of slave to agricultural or industrial labour and they lived hard lives. In some of the city-states of Greece and in the Roman Empire, slaves formed a very large part of the economy, and the Roman Empire built a large part of its wealth on slaves acquired through conquest.

Masters could free slaves, and in many cases such freedmen went on to rise to positions of power. This would include those children born into slavery but who were actually the children of the master of the house. Their father would ensure that his children were not condemned to a life of slavery.

Slavery in the Ancient Near East

The Sumerian Code of Ur-Nammu includes laws relating to slaves. written circa 2100 BCE - 2050 BCE, it is the oldest known tablet containing a law code surviving today. The Babylonian Code of Hammurabi, dating to ca. 1700 BCE, also makes distinctions between the freeborn, freed and slave.

Hittite texts from Anatolia include laws regulating the institution of slavery. Of particular interest is a law stipulating that reward for the capture of an escaped slave would be higher if the slave had already succeeded in crossing the Halys River and getting farther away from the center of Hittite civilization - from which it can be concluded...
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