Slavery in the ancient world, from the earliest known recorded evidence in Sumer to the pre-medieval Antiquity Mediterranean cultures, comprised a mixture of debt-slavery, slavery as a punishment for crime, and the enslavement of prisoners of war.
Masters could free slaves, and in many cases such freedmen went on to rise to positions of power. This would include those children born into slavery but who were actually the children of the master of the house. Their father would ensure that his children were not condemned to a life of slavery.
The institution of slavery condemned a majority of slaves to agricultural and industrial labor and they lived hard lives. In many of these cultures slaves formed a very large part of the economy, and in particular the Roman Empire and some of the Greek poleis built a large part of their wealth on slaves acquired through conquest.
In remarkable c
In remarkable contrast to the other major ancient cultures of the region, the Achaemenid Persians, during the time of Cyrus the Great, formally banned most slavery of non-combatants within the empire. Indeed, Persepolis, the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Persians, was built with paid labor.