Slavery is one of the oldest known human institutions. Evidence of it is found in archaeological sites and in ancient legal records. With a few minor exceptions, slavery has existed throughout the world, in all cultures and societies. Virtually all ancient legal codes, including the Mesopotamian, Babylonian, Roman, and biblical, defined and justified slavery. Only in the 18th and 19th centuries—after more than four millennia of known human history—did slavery come under sustained juridical and political attack. Although the substance of slavery has varied from...
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