Over thousands of years of the history of humans, we have been witness to many abominable things. Slavery certainly ranks high among them. It has robed millions of their happiness and dignity, and led them to subjugation under other members of their own species.
Slavery has a very long history. It traces its birth back to prehistoric times and has been there in almost every civilization from ancient times. In many cultures, it was legal and slaves were considered properties of their masters. The social status of slaves varied according to places and time.
Slavery began with the formation of civilizations. Early humans were hunters and nomads, who had no use of slaves. With the dawn of civilizations, new jobs were created and workers were needed. Slavery began with the workers hired for cheap wage. Wars were one of the primary sources of slaves. The captives of war were considered slaves and were made to work for meager food and accommodation. Debts, selling of children by poor families, punishments and all created more slaves. In many places, children born to slave mothers were recognized as slaves as well.
It is not possible to pinpoint the exact place and time when slavery started. Written reference to slavery has been found in the Code of Hammurabi, daring back to 18th century BC. The ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia, Egypt and Indus Valley were all familiar with slavery, though the fraction of slaves was very small.
The earliest known slave society emerged in Greece. It was particularly strong in the state of Athens. Most of the slaves were domestic servants. The male slaves did the outdoor works while the females were retained as concubines or maids. From there slavery spread to Roman Empire and other civilizations. The expansion of Roman Empire triggered more wars and created new slaves. In the last two centuries BC, more than half of the Roman population was slaves. It was also when slaves began revolts, most famous of those led by Spartacus.
Slavery spread to Entire Europe and was strong in the middle ages. With the beginning of colonization it reached Africa and America and parts of Asia. The Arab world also endorsed the slave culture since 8th century.
From 18th century, the world witnessed many abolition movements which resulted in the ban of slavery. Many European countries banned the slave system. In 1863, American president Abraham Lincoln issued his historical Emancipation Proclamation.
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