History of slavery

The history of slavery spans many cultures, nationalities, and religions from ancient times to the present day. However the social, economic, and legal positions of slaves were vastly different in different systems of slavery in different times and places. [1]

Slavery can be traced back to the earliest records, such as the Mesopotamian Code of Hammurabi (c. 1860 BC), which refers to it as an established institution, and it was common among ancient peoples. [2]

Slavery is rare among hunter-gatherer populations, because it is developed as a system of social stratification.[ clarification needed] Slavery was known in the very first civilizations such as Sumer in Mesopotamia which dates back as far as 3500 BC, as well as in almost every other civilization. The Byzantine–Ottoman wars and the Ottoman wars in Europe resulted in the taking of large numbers of Christian slaves, especially amongst the Slavic peoples of Central and Eastern Europe. Slavery became common within much of Europe during the Dark Ages and it continued into the Middle Ages. The Dutch, French, Spanish, Portuguese, British, Arabs and a number of West African kingdoms played a prominent role in the Atlantic slave trade, especially after 1600. David P. Forsythe [3] wrote: "The fact remained that at the beginning of the nineteenth century an estimated three-quarters of all people alive were trapped in bondage against their will either in some form of slavery or serfdom." [4] Denmark-Norway was the first European country to ban the slave trade in 1802.

Although slavery is no longer legal anywhere in the world (with the exception of penal labour), [5] human trafficking remains an international problem and an estimated 25-40 million people are enslaved today, the majority in Asia. [6] During the 1983–2005 Second Sudanese Civil War people were taken into slavery. [7] Although Slavery in Mauritania was criminalized in August 2007, [8] in Mauritania it is estimated that up to 600,000 men, women and children, or 20% of the population, are currently enslaved, many of them used as bonded labor. [9] Evidence emerged in the late 1990s of systematic slavery on cacao plantations in West Africa; see the chocolate and slavery article. [10]


C. 1480 BC, fugitive slave treaty between Idrimi of Alakakh (now Tell Atchana) and Pillia of Kizzuwatna (now Cilicia).

Evidence of slavery predates written records, and has existed in many cultures. [11] However, slavery is rare among hunter-gatherer populations. Mass slavery requires economic surpluses and a high population density to be viable. Due to these factors, the practice of slavery would have only proliferated after the invention of agriculture during the Neolithic Revolution, about 11,000 years ago. [12]

Slavery was known in civilizations as old as Sumer, as well as in almost every other ancient civilization, including Ancient Egypt, Ancient China, the Akkadian Empire, Assyria, Babylonia, Ancient Iran, Ancient Greece, India, the Roman Empire, the Arab Islamic Caliphate and Sultanate, Nubia and the pre-Columbian civilizations of the Americas. [13] Such institutions were a mixture of debt-slavery, punishment for crime, the enslavement of prisoners of war, child abandonment, and the birth of slave children to slaves. [14]

Other Languages
Ελληνικά: Δουλεμπόριο
Bahasa Indonesia: Sejarah perbudakan
日本語: 奴隷貿易
Simple English: Slave trade
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Historija ropstva
中文: 奴隸貿易