Where Did Slaves Come From in Ancient Times?

Slavery has existed in human societies for centuries, and it is believed to have originated in ancient times. In those days, slaves were considered as property and were owned by wealthy individuals or the ruling class.

But where did these slaves come from? Let’s explore the history of slavery in ancient times.

Slavery in Ancient Times

The earliest records of slavery date back to ancient civilizations such as Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Greece. Slaves were used for a variety of purposes, including manual labor, household chores, and even as soldiers.

In Egypt, slaves were usually prisoners of war or people who owed debts. They worked on farms or building projects and had little to no rights.

In Mesopotamia, slaves were obtained through conquests or purchased from slave traders. They worked in households or on public works projects.

Ancient Greece

Slavery was an integral part of ancient Greek society. Slaves were owned by both wealthy individuals and the state. They performed a variety of tasks such as farming, mining, and working in households.

In Sparta, slaves known as helots were owned by the state and worked on farms. They outnumbered the citizens of Sparta by a considerable margin but were kept under strict control to prevent uprisings.


Ancient Rome relied heavily on slave labor for its economy to thrive. Slaves were obtained through wars or purchased from slave traders. They worked in mines, factories, farms, and households.

Slaves played a significant role in building Rome’s infrastructure such as aqueducts and roads. Some skilled slaves such as doctors and teachers were highly valued but still considered property.

The Origin of Slaves

The origins of slavery are not entirely clear, but it is believed that it started with prisoners of war being taken captive during battles. These captives would then be sold into slavery or put to work by the conquering army.

In ancient times, slaves were also obtained through piracy and kidnapping. Slave traders would capture people from neighboring societies and sell them into slavery. This practice continued for centuries until slavery was abolished in most parts of the world.

The Legacy of Slavery

The legacy of slavery can still be felt today in many parts of the world. The transatlantic slave trade that took place between the 16th and 19th centuries is one of the most significant events in human history. Millions of Africans were forcibly taken from their homes and transported to the Americas to work on plantations.

Slavery has had a profound impact on human society, and its effects can still be seen in modern times. It is essential to understand the history of slavery to ensure that it never happens again.


Slavery has been a part of human society since ancient times. Slaves were obtained through conquests, piracy, and kidnapping. They were considered property and used for manual labor, household chores, and even as soldiers.

The legacy of slavery can still be felt today, and it is crucial that we continue to educate ourselves about its history to prevent it from happening again. By understanding where slaves came from in ancient times, we can better appreciate the progress that has been made towards ending this barbaric practice.