When and where did slavery start?

 What’s in the name? Aristotle tagged them as “human instruments,” marking their use as tools while the fifth century Anglo-Saxons called the people they captured “Welshman.” They are later dubbed as “slaves,” originating from the time the Germans supplied the slaves they seized to Europe’s markets.

Britney Spears probably could have been more hesitant to sing “I’m a Slave 4 U” if she realized how real slaves had lived.  Male slave from Mesopotamia (today’s Iraq) for instance, was worth an orchard of date palms. Female slaves were called on for sexual services, gaining freedom only when their masters died.

The Roman emperors owned thousands of slaves to indulge their caprices. Slaves acted as secretaries, clerks, and tax agents. They were trained for all possible functions, like gladiators fighting to the death for entertainment. Women and children slaves are preferred over rebellious men in ancient Greek. (click here for more details)

The transport of slaves was a horror that many did not survive. For instance, ships used to carry slaves were tightly packed, short of food, and without proper sanitation. It has led to a quick spread of diseases such as fever, dysentery, and smallpox. Death was commonplace on the slave trade. When a slave passed away, his body was tossed into the ocean.

Slavery typically came about as a result of debt, child abandonment, birthed into a slave family, war, or as a punishment for a crime. The history of slavery is a significant and grievous story, full of tragedy and unbearable cruelty that spans both centuries and continents. It is difficult to pinpoint the exact year that slavery has begun because its origins predate the written word and historical recording. However, historians can trace the roots of the inhumane practice of slavery back roughly 11,000 years. (click here for more details)

The Code of Hammurabi in Mesopotamia (today’s Iraq) gave the first identifiable evidence of slavery. This ancient text refers to slavery as a practice common throughout the region. It had been practiced for thousands of years at the time it was written.

The custom of human slavery grew as the world became more civilized, and organized cities and farms were developed. Sumeria is thought to be the birthplace of slavery, which grew out into Greece and other parts of ancient Mesopotamia. The Ancient East, specifically India and China, didn’t adopt the practice of slavery until the Qin Dynasty in 221 B.C. Historians debate whether or not the practice of slavery in India existed before this time since there is no word in ancient Sanskrit that can be translated as “slave.”

Throughout the Middle Ages (500 AD – 1500 AD), the practice of slavery changed dramatically as global warfare, raiding and conquering spanned across the continents. Chaos and confusion arise as the citizens of conquered regions were transported across many miles to work as slaves for their captors.

Medieval slavery in Europe became wildly popular throughout King Charlemagne’s reign. His reign marked the trade of European slaves to Muslim countries, to the British Isles and across Europe. Besides, Spain and Portugal were in almost constant of the Holy War between Muslims and Christians, taking many women and children into slavery in the name of Allah.

Islamic invasions of India resulted in the enslavement of hundreds of thousands of Indians. A historical record showed that in the year 1001, the armies of Mahmud of Ghazna conquered Peshawar and Waihand, capturing approximately 100,000 children and young people. Meanwhile, in China, documents revealed that royals from the Tang Dynasty bought many Jewish and European slaves. The royal soldiers and pirates also took countless slaves in raids in Turkey, Persia, Korea, Indonesia, and from the indigenous Aboriginal tribes.

The story of slavery in the Americas started in 1619 when 20 men from Africa were brought to Jamestown, Virginia. Although historians are not sure whether this was the real beginning of the legal slave trade in the colonies as indentured servants (workers who don’t receive any salary in exchange for their passage to America) already existed in the region. (click here for more details)

Roughly 60 years later, Royal African Slave Company’s records showed that the slave trade increased in the British Colonies due to the sharp decline of indentured servants. The majority of the African slaves worked in Caribbean plantations. European colonies depended on African slaves to produce sugar and coffee while owners in Brazil and the Spanish Americas rely on them to do both field and household work.