Did Settled Societies Perpetuate Slavery?

When the prehistoric economy moved from one based on hunting and gathering to one based on agriculture; the need for people to spend all day doing menial jobs increased considerably.

Who was going to perform these loathsome tasks? Slaves.

Not only did this new settled lifestyle provide the impetus to perpetuate slavery, it created an entrepĂ´t trade for the export of slaves to the world that existed beyond its borders. By the 19th century, some form of slavery had become universal in many countries.

Slavery has existed since the beginning of recorded history. Slaves were used in Ancient Egypt–though they did not build the pyramids–they were used for domestic duties. In many economies, the cultivation of crops was done by slaves. Some individuals even owned them by the hundreds.

A distinction has been made between the practise of slavery in Egypt and Ancient Rome–where slaves did and could reach positions of high regard where they were handsomely rewarded. It was not a completely unmitigated evil. This, however, has been contrasted against the practises of slave hunters and traders who were entirely evil.

Not all slaves were the same and nor were they treated equally. Slaves from certain regions were prized as they were easy to teach, docile and faithful and even industrious. Other nationalities were considered difficult to work with.

If we had remained as hunters and gatherers, would slavery have been averted entirely?


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