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Slavery - Essay Example

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Name Professor Module Date Anthropology - Slavery INTRODUCTION Throughout history, human communities and societies have always maintained a class of servants that were responsible for performing the chores and tasks that other higher ranking members did not want to do…
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Download file to see previous pages... In many bygone civilizations, slavery was the mainstay that enabled them to achieve the glory and reputation that they still enjoy to this day. Ancient civilizations such as those of Egypt, Greece, and the Roman Empire were all built on the backs of thousands of slaves. The modern world’s main superpower would also base its economy, during the early years of its existence, on the institution of slavery. SLAVERY IN THE ANCIENT WORLD Egypt According to Redford, the civilization of Ancient Egypt existed between 5500 B.C. and 332 B.C (Redford 31). During this 4,200-year time line, slaves created numerous structures in the different dynasties; the most famous of which were the pyramids that still remain today. In the course of its colorful existence, the civilization of Ancient Egypt developed an advanced socio-political establishment and even developed schools for its scholars. According to Redford, it is slaves who worked in extremely dangerous conditions, with thousands of them dying in the process, to create structures such as the famous pyramids of Giza (Redford 32). Egyptian records from this bygone era have also shown that slaves were not just presumed to be the property of their masters in the physical earthy life but also their chattels in the afterlife. It was not unusual for the slaves of a rich man, along with his favorite wives, to be murdered upon his death so that they could continue to serve their master in the next life. The most famous account of the existence of slaves in Egypt is found in the Old Testament where the record of the Israelite slaves living in Egypt between 1400 and 1200 BC is documented. It is unlikely that only Jewish slaves were kept in Egypt (Redford 34). There were probably slaves of different ethnicities working in Egypt. From recorded documents, it is evident that there were even instances where poor families sold their children to be slaves in wealthy families. This would ensure that their children were fed constantly while allowing them also to be able to feed the remaining family members. People who ran into debt could also sell themselves into slavery or become the indentured servants of the people whom they owed money. Even though slaves occupied the lowest rung of Egyptian society, the ones who worked for rich masters such as temple priests, wealthy businessmen, or the royal family fared better than the peasants who owned land. This is because peasants had to give a part of their crops as taxes whether they experienced good harvests or not while slaves were dependent on their masters’ largesse. Ancient Greece In ancient Greece, which existed between the Bronze Age and remained until around 1000BC, slavery was also a recognized institution in society. According to Reilly, for every free citizen in Athens there was a slave (Reilly 62). Any male citizen in Greece who had a modest salary could procure the services of a slave to perform duties in his business, as a servant in his home, or even for personal services. In ancient Greece, slaves were often prisoners of war, or people who had been born of slaves. Moreover, there were many slaves who had actually been kidnapped from their home nations and brought to Athens to be sold as slaves or male and female concubines. In city states such as Athens, slaves could aspire to become physicians. They were given more freedom; and, depending on their masters, were treated with respect for the ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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