Tuesday, February 27, 2007
How people become slaves
And as often as you reflect how much power you have over a slave, remember that your master has just as much power over you. "But I have no master," you say. You are still young; perhaps you will have one. Do you not know at what age Hecuba entered captivity, or Croesus, or the mother of Darius, or Plato, or Diogenes?
and when various powerful nations fought among themselves anyone might find himself enslaved. The actual amount of force needed to kidnap individual people for slaves could lead to enslavement of those secure from warfare, as brief sporadic raids or kidnapping often sufficed. St. Patrick recounts in his Confession having been kidnapped by pirates, and the Biblical figure Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers.
Ancient societies characterized by poverty, rampant warfare or lawlessness, famines, population pressures, and cultural and technological lag are frequently exporters of slaves to more developed nations. Today the illegal slave trade (mostly in Africa) deals with slaves who are rural people forced to move to cities, or those purchased in rural areas and sold into slavery in cities. These moves take place due to loss of subsistence agriculture, thefts of land, and population increases.
In many ancient cultures, persons (often including their family) convicted of serious crimes could be sold into slavery. The proceeds from this sale were often used to compensate the victims. The Code of Hammurabi (~1800 BCE) prescribes this for failure to maintain a water dam, to compensate victims of a flood. The convicted criminal might be sold into slavery if he lacked the property to make compensation to the victims. Other laws and other crimes might enslave the criminal regardless of his property; some laws called for the criminal and all his property to be handed over to his victim.
Also, persons have been sold into slavery so that the money could be used to pay off their debts. This could range from a judge, king or Emperor ordering a debtor sold with all his family, to the poor selling off their own children to prevent starvation. In times of dire need such as famine, people have offered themselves into slavery not for a purchase price, but merely so that their new master would feed and take care of them.
In most institutions of slavery throughout the world, the children of slaves became the property of the master. Local laws varied as to whether the status of the mother or of the father determined the fate of the child; but were usually determined by the status of the mother. In many cultures, slaves could earn their freedom through hard work and buying their own freedom; this was not possible in all cultures.
The type of work slaves did depended on the time period and location of their slavery. In general, they did the same work as everyone else in the lower echelons of the society they lived in but were not paid for it beyond room and board, clothing etc. The most common types of slave work are domestic service, agriculture, mineral extraction, army make-up, industry, and commerce. Prior to about the 18th century, domestic services were acquired in some wealthier households and may include up to four female slaves and their children on its staff. The chattels (as they are called in some countries) are expected to cook, clean, sometimes carry water from an outdoor pump into the house, and grind cereal. Most hired servants to do the same tasks.
Many slaves were used in agriculture and cultivation from ancient times to about 1860. The strong, young men and women were sometimes forced to work long days in the fields, with little or no breaks for water or food. Since slaves were usually considered valuable property, they were usually well taken care of in the sense that minimally adequate food and shelter were provided to maintain good health, and that the workload was not excessive to the point of endangering health. However, this was not always the case in many countries where they worked on land that was owned by absentee owners. The overseers in many of these areas literally worked the slaves to death.
In mineral extraction, the majority of the work, when done by slaves, was done nearly always by men. In some places, they mined the salt that was used during extensive trade in the 19th century. Some of the men in ancient civilizations that were bought into chattel slavery were trained to fight in their nation's army and other military services. Chattel slaves were occasionally trained in artisan workshops for industry and commerce. The men worked in metalworking, while the females normally worked in either textile trades or domestic household tasks. The majority of the time, the slave owners did not pay the chattels for their services beyond room and board, clothing etc.
Female slaves, who for the most were from Africa, were long traded to the Middle Eastern countries and kingdoms by Arab traders, and sold into sexual slavery to work as concubines or prostitutes. Typically, females were sold at a lower price than their male counterparts, with one exception being when (predominantly) Irish women captured in Viking raids were sold to the Middle East in the 800-1200 period.
It was not uncommon in Byzantium for male slaves to be castrated. Even some important leaders of the army and navy, during various periods of Byzantine history, were castrated -- often because very high positions were available to eunuchs, as they were of no threat to the Byzantine Emperor (The Emperor was never castrated). Once Western ideas of sex, chivalry and more humane treatment became more popularized in Byzantium, however, there was a stigma attached to castration.
History of slavery
The history of slavery in the ancient world was closely tied to warfare. Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Hebrew, Greek, Roman, Persian, Chinese, Mayan, Aztec and Indian sources are replete with references to slavery in connection with warfare. Captured prisoners of war were frequently impressed into slavery by their captors, often as manual labourers in military, civil engineering, or agricultural projects, or as household servants. Many ancient households were maintained with one or more slaves and slaves provided nearly all the agricultural and construction labour in some societies.
Many ancient societies had many more slaves than nominally "free" citizens who controlled them. Slavery nearly everywhere permitted cruelty and abuse although slaves were usually treated semi-humanely as valuable "property". Slavery nearly always predates written history on every continent. After writing was introduced, domestic slavery and sometimes concubine slavery was noted among the nomadic Arabs, and among Native American hunter gatherers, African, New Guinean, and New Zealand tribes, and among the Germanic and Viking raiders and many other pre-literate people.
Most slavery is associated with war in that losers are taken prisoner by the victors to prevent a future conflict, or as a form of penal punishment with the criminals being made slaves to partially compensate the victims. Debt slavery existed in very early times, and some African people had the custom of putting up wives and children as hostages for an obligation; if the obligation was not paid, the hostages became slaves. In Homer's Greece, it was not a crime, although unusual, for a master to beat or kill a slave, and the testimony of slaves was not allowed in Greek courts unless it was obtained through torture.
Saturday, January 27, 2007
Pharaohs such as Thutmose III and Rameses II published detailed lists of the type and number of enemies captured during their campaigns into Canaan. Ahmose, a soldier under the Pharaoh Ahmose, founder of the 18th Dynasty, in describing the fall of the Hyksos capital at Avaris reports on the walls of his tomb: "Then Avaris was despoiled. Then I carried off spoil from there: one man, three women, a total of four persons. Then his majesty gave them to me to be slaves" (see Hyksos). Slaves were also obtained throughout the Pharaonic period by expeditions into Nubia. As in other ancient cultures, there was a strong link between military aggression and slavery.
Slavery is also found in the sections of the Bible related to Egypt. Joseph is sold into slavery in Egypt, and after his time, at the beginning of Exodus, all the Hebrews of Egypt have been reduced to slave laborers. Much like the story of Joseph, there are examples of slaves rising to higher social status, even of marrying into native Egyptian families. However, there are many more exmples of slaves being worked until death in Sinai copper mines. As in many later societies, there was a wide variety of slaves: from highly valued house servants and tutors, to skilled artisans, to field laborers (Canaanite "asiatics" are often depicted at the wine press).
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Vedius Pollio, a citizen of Rome, reportedly fed the bodies of his slaves to his pet fish. Flavius Gratianus, a fourth-century Roman emperor who favored Christianity, ruled that any slave who accused his master of a crime should be immediately burned alive, but this applied mostly to plots against the emperor's own life. Roman slaves who participated in revolts were often crucified.
In ancient Greco-Roman times, slavery was related to the practice of infanticide. Unwanted infants were exposed to nature to die; these were then often rescued by slave traders, who raised them to become slaves. Justin Martyr, in his First Apology, defended the Christian practice of not exposing infant only secondarily because the child might die; first of all,
But as for us,we have been taught that to expose newly-born children is the part of wicked men; and this we have been taught lest we should do any one an injury, and lest we should sin against God, first, because we see that almost all so exposed (not only the girls, but also the males) are brought up to prostitution.
Monday, November 27, 2006
Sunday, November 26, 2006
Slavery Abolition Act
An object at rest tends to stay in rest and an object in motion tends to stay in motion in a straight line at constant speed unless acted upon by an external, unbalanced force.
The rate of change of momentum of a body is proportional to the resultant force acting on the body and is in the same direction.
To every action (force applied) there is an equal and opposite reaction (equal force applied in the opposite direction).
Another way of stating Newton's third law, an interaction between two objects, is that, if object A exerts a force on object B, object B will exert the same magnitude force on A, but in the opposite direction.
It is important to note that these three laws together with his law of gravitation provide a satisfactory basis for the explanation of motion of everyday macroscopic objects under everyday conditions. However, when applied to extremely high speeds or extremely small objects, Newton's laws break down; this was remedied by Albert Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity for high speeds and by quantum mechanics for small objects.
Friday, October 27, 2006
More African slaves may have crossed the Sahara Desert, the Red Sea, and the Indian Ocean than crossed the Atlantic. Some sources estimate that between 11 and 17 million slaves crossed the Red Sea, Indian Ocean, and Sahara Desert from 650 to 1900, compared to perhaps 11-12 million transported across the Atlantic from 1500 to the late 1860s. The Arab or Middle Eastern slave trade continued in some areas into the early 1900s. 
Slaves were also brought into the Arab world from Central Asia, Eastern Europe and the Caucasus mountains (Georgians, Armenians, etc.) White slaves were generally called Mamluks and black slaves referred to as zanji (it should be pointed out that the word zanji in Arabic simply means 'black' as it does zenci in Turkish).
Until the 10th century many black slaves could be found in the marshlands of Iraq, until the zanji/Khawarij revolt which turned the tide in the import of black slaves, after that many more white slaves than black were brought into the Arab world (see Tabari "Revolt of the zanj").
White slaves served in the army and formed an elite corp of troops eventually revolting in Egypt to form the Mamluk dynasty.
As in the Ottoman empire slavery had no racial connotations. During the Fatimid rule of Egypt at least one black slave rose to the position of ruler of Egypt. The white Mamluks ruled Egypt after the Ayyubids until the coming of the Ottomans
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Slaves in the Ottoman empire in general were brought from Eastern Europe and parts of Southern Russia. In the Islamic world slavery had religious rather than racial connotations, with most of the slaves in Ottoman history being Christians. The Ottomans had many European and Central Asian "Mameluk" slaves and the elite Janissary troops of the Ottoman army were all Christian-born slaves taken mostly from the Balkans.
Towards the latter part of the Ottoman Empire during the 19th century with the decline of its European territories the Ottomans began to import slaves from the sub Sahara via Egypt. Black slaves became a common sight amongst the Ottoman elite where they worked mostly in the households of rich Ottomans as servants or maids. When slavery was abolished in Turkey by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk some of these black former slaves moved from Istanbul to the city of İzmir and the surrounding villages.
Turkey has had no history of segregation on racial grounds and many of those both black and white who were the descendants of slaves have intermarried with the Turkish population.