What Is the History of World Slavery?

Slavery has been an unfortunate part of human history for centuries, with evidence dating back to ancient civilizations such as Egypt, Greece, and Rome. The practice of owning another person as property was widespread in many parts of the world until the 19th century. Let’s take a closer look at the history of world slavery.

Ancient Slavery

Slavery was prevalent in ancient civilizations and was primarily used for labor purposes. In Egypt, slaves were often prisoners of war or criminals who were forced to work on monumental building projects such as the pyramids. In Greece and Rome, slaves were used for a variety of tasks including agriculture, mining, and domestic work.

The Atlantic Slave Trade

The transatlantic slave trade is perhaps the most well-known form of slavery in history. Beginning in the 16th century, Europeans began enslaving Africans and transporting them across the Atlantic Ocean to work on plantations in the Americas.

  • It is estimated that between 10 and 12 million Africans were forcibly transported to the Americas during this time.
  • The conditions on these slave ships were horrific with many slaves dying during the journey due to disease or malnutrition.
  • The transatlantic slave trade officially ended in 1808 with the passing of laws banning the importation of slaves in both America and Britain.

Slavery Today

While slavery is no longer legal anywhere in the world, it still exists today in various forms including forced labor, human trafficking, and debt bondage.

  • According to estimates by human rights organizations, there are currently over 40 million people living in slavery around the world today.
  • Many countries have taken steps to combat modern slavery, including passing laws and increasing law enforcement efforts.
  • However, there is still much work to be done to eradicate this practice completely.


The history of slavery is a dark stain on human history that has had lasting effects on societies around the world. While we have made progress in the fight against slavery, it still exists today in various forms. It is important to continue working towards eradicating this practice and ensuring that all people are free and equal.