Who Were Slaves in Ancient Times?

In ancient times, slavery was a common practice that existed in many cultures around the world. Slaves were typically individuals who were taken captive during wars or raids, or those who were born into slavery.

Who Were Slaves in Ancient Times?

Slaves in ancient times came from a wide range of backgrounds and ethnicities. In some cultures, such as ancient Rome, slaves could be found from all parts of the empire. They could be prisoners of war, people who had been sold into slavery by their families or individuals who had fallen into debt and were forced to sell themselves into bondage.

Ancient Greece and Rome

In ancient Greece and Rome, slaves were considered property and had no legal rights. They were owned by their masters, who could use them for any task they saw fit. Slaves in these societies performed a variety of roles such as household servants, agricultural laborers, and skilled workers.

Ancient Egypt

In ancient Egypt, slaves were also common. They were often captured during wars and used for manual labor on large construction projects like the pyramids. However, some slaves in Egypt held positions of power and influence – for example, Queen Tiye was the daughter of a Nubian slave.

Other Cultures

Slavery was not limited to just Greece, Rome, or Egypt – it existed in many other cultures around the world as well. For instance:

  • In China during the Shang Dynasty (1600-1046 BCE), slaves were used for labor-intensive tasks such as farming.
  • In India during the Maurya Empire (322-185 BCE), slaves worked in mines and on public works projects like roads.
  • In Africa before European colonization began in the 15th century CE, slavery existed among various African civilizations.


In conclusion, slavery was a common practice in ancient times and existed in many cultures around the world. Slaves came from all walks of life and were used for various tasks depending on the society they lived in. While slavery is now illegal in most parts of the world, it is important to remember its history and the impact it has had on our collective past.