What's the difference between ancient slavery (Ancient Rome, Greece, Persia, Egypt any ancient civilization) and American slavery?

I know that slavery was common in the ancient world but what is the difference between their kind of slavery and the slavery that happened after the beginning of the slave trade during the 1600s,1700s, and 1800s with the Africans.


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Most Helpful Guy

  • The Roman empire enslaved people who were captured in battle and probably criminals.
    The Greek states had different policies pertaining to slavery. Some of them using other tribes, others making people who were in debt slaves.
    Egypt had ethnic slaves as well that worked the fields of the empire, contrary to popular belief the pyramids were not built by slaves.
    The Achaemenid empire slavery was banned.

    American slavery was an evolution on the colonial slave trade. Colonial powers would colonize and take part in the slave trade that was going on in West Africa in order to have working population on plantations in the new World.
    They of course did ban slavery much before the US ever did.

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    • Thanks for answering!!! I also know that slavery wasn't really race based during ancient times and some slaves actually had rights and could get out of it while during colonial times with Africans they were dehumamanized and only considered subhuman. Also since slavery wasn't race based during ancient times, when did actual racism and things like that begin.

    • Racism started being a thing during colonization.

      The colonialists and traders did think that Africans were lesser humans, both because of their religion and their lack of "civilization". They would purchase large numbers of slaves from West African slave bazaars for their own needs.

What Girls Said 1

  • There are hundreds of differences. Great question. The major differences are
    1) those enslaved by the Trans-Atlantic slave trade were perpetually enslaved. They were enslaved until death, their children of the slaves became property of their parent's master. Many slaves in other regions could buy or earn their freedom.
    2) there were no punishments for mistreated slaves in chattel slavery. Those brought into indentured servitude (which was common in many of the regions listed above) were in many cases allowed to appeal to a court.
    3) the magnitude. The Trans-Atlantic slave trade enslaved over 11 million people, and killed over 10 million - so about 20 million lives estimated.
    4) permanent imperialism and exploitation destroyed the continent of Africa for centuries

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    • Slaves in the Americas could also buy or be given freedom, in the ancient world the conditions of slaves varied from culture to culture and over time. They varied somewhat in the two hundred and fifty years of the African slave trade but not as much. Ancient slavery had a history of thousands of years.

      An interesting read is 'Wicked River, The Mississippi when it last ran Wild', there is a chapter about a black man in Natchez, I believe, who owned several businesses, barber shops mostly, a prosperous citizen who owned slaves himself. he was a diarist particularly interested in street brawls for some reason. His story is fascinating. He was cheated and murdered in a business deal with a man he presumed was also a black free man but who in court presented evidence he was in fact part Indian and so according to the law of that time and place adjudged 'white', so the black slaves who had witnessed the killing were not permitted to testify against him and he went free. Complicated.

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    • I stand by what I said. A roman slave could only buy their freedom if their master allowed it just the same as colonial African slaves.

    • @Explore2016 that's not entirely historically accurate, but i suppose if that's what you truly believe...

What Guys Said 7

  • Oh, the good ol' Americas.
    What's your question exactly? Did you know that Africa was colonized by Europe (I assume that's who you're referring to when you say American) for over three hundred years, and African countries really didn't start to regain their sovereignty until the second half of the 1900s?
    Also did you know that they left the continent broken and confused? Previously, African was divided by tribal lines, and the country jurisdictions have no bearing on how they actually wish to govern themselves, for the most part? A very few countries have changed their borders from those established at the date of sovereignty, resulting in seemingly endless civil wars and injustices committed.
    And lastly, did you know that Africa is the second largest continent, by land mass, and the second most populous despite 300+ years of the theft of its people? Probably you did know that it is the only continent not self sufficient in feeding it's people, despite the richness of natural resources.

    Back to your question, I am going to guess that slaves lived inside the domicile in ancient times, cause that's where your property was safest, and in the Americas, they were housed more commonly in a separate dwelling, outside, because that's where you store things that are beneath you.

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    • Thanks for answering! My question is more about the treatment of the slaves. I know that during African slavery the Africans and in the Us the African Americans were extremely and harshly mistreated and considered less than human and masters could get away with killing them. they had no rights at all. But during ancient times such as in Egypt slavery wasn't race based and I read that the peasants sold themselves because slaves were better treated with food and shelter and did not have to pay taxes and they could in fact get married to a person that wasn't a slave. They actually had some rights. Sometimes they even sold tere own kids because they couldn't afford to take care of them unlike in the U. S. where some people committed infanticide to prevent there children from the harsh treatment as slaves. I actually just finished reading Beloved by Toni Morrison which was an amazing read.

  • Probably the numbers. Julius Ceasar enslaved one million Gauls out of a population of four million and that was only one campaign. At one point one out of every three Roman citizens were slaves. Like American slaves they could be freed or escape however unlikely whether they lived a hard life usually depended on how well their masters treated them. But ultimately their life were measured by the strength of their back and their ability to work hard. Slavery still exists today and their is at least in England a sub culture of muslim slave owners who keep young east African girls secretly in their basements.

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    • When I say one out of every three thats no 100% you couldn't be a roman citizen if you were a slave.

    • One million enslaved thats huge.

    • The Romans were brutal people after the spartacus slave revolt the crucified all the captured slaves and spaced them out along the roadside

  • I don't know about egyptian slavery but it was more like more and more taxes at an era and it was to work more hrs in an era and it was forcing jobs in an era , u know there is a something on walls where someone hiting people to move the stones during building the pyramids people think those people are slaves but actually they r engineers

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    • aren't you Egyptian. Those guys moving stones are engineers more like enforced labourers. Why would there be a guy beating "engineers" who were likely amoung the highest and most intelligent people in eygpt at the time? Im sure there would have been skilled workers for sure carving and building but for the labouring and moving those stones would have been done by slaves ie like the children of Israel.

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    • I guess you are not a devout muslim if you believe the jews were not slaves in Eygpt.

    • @explore2016 they were in a specific time of history during ramses but during building the pyramids there were no Jews and those r historical facts and what the hell brought relgion to our talk GOD people

  • there are plenty of difference, but i'm lazy. the most noticeable difference is that American slavery was pretty much strictly based on race. slavery in any other era was based on conquer and imprisonment system.

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  • they didn't discriminate against race, if they conquered you, you became their slaves

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  • The two most important difference is their slavery was not racial. The Romans had no race prejudice, their prejudice was entirely cultural and aristocratic. The second difference was their society had a number of gradations between slave at the bottom and aristocrat at the top, it wasn't just a stark divide between free men who were all equal and slaves who were chattel.

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    • I think it was racial. Ie the phrase barbarian which means anyone not Roman who could be conquered and enslaved.

    • @Explore2016

      No, the Romans didn't consider barbarians a race but a culture. Their ideas were entirely different from ours. They didn't have the modern ideas of inheritance or evolution at all. They reasoned from analogy to plants. The man supplied the seed and the woman the soil, people grew differently because of varying conditions just as plants do. They believed if a Roman went and lived in Abyssinia his descendants would be black.

      They did have strong ideas about the benefits of having heroic or divine ancestors but they did not think such ancestors only occurred in some peoples and not others. They also believed everything was getting worse, that the human race was degenerating from a mighty, heroic past.

  • The only acceptable answer will be: American slavery is the worst because [fill in anything you want here].

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