Home | Sources Directory | News Releases | Calendar | Articles | RSS Sources Select News RSS Feed | Contact |  

Slavery in Iran

A History of slavery in Iran during various ancient, medieval and modern periods is catalogued by archaeological and historical records.[1][2].


[edit] Medians

The Medes empire (625'549 BC) included slavery in a geographical area that included part of what is now the nation of Iran. In the threshold between 7th and 6th century, Media was overflowed with captive slaves.[3] Captured soldiers and residents of sacked cities were among those enslaved.[citation needed] The Medians took people who were captured in battle and others after sacking and conquering cities. In 612 BC Cyaxares conquered Urartu, and in alliance with Nabopolassar (who created the Neo-Babylonian Empire) succeeded in destroying the Assyrian capital and taking many captured people as slaves.[citation needed] This action made the Medians feared throughout the Middle East.[citation needed] They also captured people from Iran such as the Elam and Parthians.[citation needed]

[edit] Under the Achaemenides

Slavery was an existing institution in Egypt, Media and Babylonia before the rise of the Achaemenid empire. On the whole, in the Achaemenid empire, there was only small number of slaves in relation to the number of free persons and moreover the word used to call a slave was utilized also to express general dependence.[4]. Usually, the slaves were prisoners of war that were recruited from those that rebelled against Achaemenid rule.[5]In general, mass slavery as a whole has never been practiced by Persians, and in many cases the situation of and lives of semi-slaves were, in fact, better than the commoner[6].

There were three categories of slaves in Achaemenian Persia:[7]

1) Captives, transferred to new places, forming settlements of people in a state of slavery.

2) Slaves, mainly from among the captives, used in construction and agricultural work for the aristocracy.

3) Slaves in personal service

Modern historians handle the book of Herodotus with care and according to Pierre Briant: "It is hard to separate history from fairly tale in Herodotus"[8]. Herodotus has mentioned enslavement with regards to rebels of the Lydians who revolted against Achaemenid rule and captured Sardis[9]. He has also mentioned slavery after the rebellion of Egypt in the city of Barce[10] during the time of Cambyses and the assassination of Persian Satrap in Egypt. He also mentions the defeat of Ionians, and their allies Eretria who supported the Ionians and subsequent enslavement of the rebels and supporting population[11].

According to Dandamayev:[12]

' The basis of agriculture was the labor of free farmers and tenants and in handicrafts the labor of free artisans, whose occupation was usually inherited within the family, likewise predominated. In these countries of the empire, slavery had already undergone important changes by the time of the emergence of the Persian state. Debt slavery was no longer common. The practice of pledging one's person for debt, not to mention self-sale, had totally disappeared by the Persian period. In the case of nonpayment of a debt by the appointed deadline, the creditor could turn the children of the debtor into slaves. A creditor could arrest an insolvent debtor and confine him to debtor's prison. However, the creditor could not sell a debtor into slavery to a third party. Usually the debtor paid off the loan by free work for the creditor, thereby retaining his freedom. '

[edit] Under the Parthians

There is evidence from classical sources about practice of slavery under Parthian rule. Cicero in a letter to Atticus mentions a fugitive slave who had worked in the mines of the Parthian king. Slavery was not restricted to royal mines, and it was used on a large scale in agriculture, building and in the crafts. According to Diodorus Siculus, the vice-regent of Phraates II in Babylonia enslaved a large number of Babylonians and sent them to Media to be sold as booty. According to Plutarch, there were many slaves in the army of the Parthian general Surena[13].

[edit] Under the Sassanids

Under this period Roman prisoners of war were used in farming in Babylonia, Shush and Persis[14].

[edit] Sassanid Laws of Slavery

Some of the laws governing the ownership and treatment of slaves can be found in the collection of laws of the Sassanid period called Matikan-e-Hazar Datastan[15].

1) The slaves were captured foreigners who were non-Zoroastrians.

2) The ownership of the slave belonged to the man.

3) The owner had to treat the slave humanely; violence toward the slave was forbidden. In particular beating a slave woman was a crime.

4) If a non-Zoroastrian slave, such as a Christian slave, converted to Zoroastrianism, he or she could pay his or her price and attain freedom.

5) If a slave together with his or her foreign master embraced Zoroastrianism, he or she could pay his slave price and become free.

To free a slave (irrespective of his or her faith) was considered a good deed[16]. Slaves had some rights including keeping gifts to them and at least three days of rest in the month[17]. The law also protected slaves, including: No one may inflict upon slaves a fatal punishment for a single crime... Not even the king himself may slay anyone on the account of one crime[18].

[edit] Arab slave trade

Historians say the Arab slave trade lasted more than a millennium.[19][20]. After the Islamic conquest of Iran, Iranians were taken as slaves or so-called "mawlids" by the victorius Arabs. The Arab or Middle Eastern slave trade is thought to have originated with trans-Saharan slavery.[21][22] Arab, Indian, and Oriental traders were involved in the capture and transport of slaves northward across the Sahara desert and the Indian Ocean region into Arabia and the Middle East, Persia, Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent.[23]

After the 8th century CE, Muslim Arab traders controlled the export of East African slaves toward North Africa, Middle East and India[24]. Slavery was practiced among Arab seamen and this contributed to the commercial supply of African blacks in the Middle East for centuries[25].

Male slaves were employed as servants, soldiers, or laborers, while female slaves were traded to Middle Eastern countries and kingdoms by Arab, Indian, or Oriental traders, some as domestic servants.[26][27][28] Some historians estimate that between 11 and 17 million slaves crossed the Red Sea, Indian Ocean, and Sahara Desert from 650 to 1900 AD.[29][30]

Racist opinions occurred in the works of some Persian and Arab-Muslim historians and geographers.[31]

[edit] Slavery under Timur's Turkish rule

Timur the Lame (1336 ' 1405), Turkic ruler, invaded Iran, Armenia and Georgia and captured many Iranians and more than 60,000 people from the Caucasus as slaves. Many districts of Iran and Armenia were depopulated.[32] In most of the territories he incorporated, Persian was the primary language of administration and literary culture. Thus the language of the settled diwan was Persian and its scribes had to be adept in Persian culture, regardless of ethnicity.

[edit] Modern Period

In 1846, Muhammad Shah Qajar rejected a British request to limit the slave trade, on the grounds that Islam permitted slavery.[33] During the 19th century, travelers and missionaries recorded the considerable extent of slavery in Persia. The slaves were brought from the African coast either oversea by way of Persian Gulf or overland across Arabia[34]. Slavery was formally abolished in Persia in 1929[35].

[edit] References

  1. ^ "In the year 869, a group of slaves rose in a great rebellion against the Abbasid empire -- an empire whose territories now form Iraq, Kuwait and parts of Iran, Jordan, Syria, Egypt and Saudi Arabia." http://www.textbookleague.org/35slave.htm
  2. ^ "Throughout the 15th century, Arab traders in northern Africa shipped African people taken from central Africa to markets in Arabia, Iran, and India." MSN Encarta Encyclopedia http://encarta.msn.com/encnet/refpages/RefArticle.aspx?refid=761556943. Archived 2009-10-31.
  3. ^ Ilya Gershevitch, William Bayne Fisher, The Cambridge History of Iran, 964 pp., Cambridge University Press, 1985, ISBN 0-521-20091-1, 9780521200912, pp.136-137
  4. ^ M. A. Dandamayev, BARDA and BARDADä�Rä� in Encyclopedia Iranica
  5. ^ M. A. Dandamayev, BARDA and BARDADä�Rä� in Encyclopedia Iranica
  6. ^ Jay M. Shafritz, "International Encyclopedia of Public Policy and Administration", Published by Westview Press, 1998. pg 1642. Excerpt:"Persians never practiced mass slavery, and in many cases the situations and lives of semi-slaves were in fact better than the common citizens of Persia
  7. ^ Ilya Gershevitch, William Bayne Fisher, The Cambridge History of Iran, Vol.II: The Median and Achaemenian periods, 964 pp., Cambridge University Press, 1985, ISBN 0-521-20091-1, 9780521200912, pp.136-137
  8. ^ Pierre Briant, From Cyrus to Alexander, 1195 pp., Eisenbrauns Publishers, 2006, ISBN 1-57506-120-1, 9781575061207.
  9. ^ Pierre Briant, From Cyrus to Alexander, 1195 pp., Eisenbrauns Publishers, 2006, ISBN 1-57506-120-1, 9781575061207, p.37
  10. ^ J. D. Fage, R. A. Oliver, The Cambridge History of Africa: From C.500 BC to AD1050, 858 pp., Cambridge University Press, 1979, ISBN 0-521-21592-7, 9780521215923 (see page 112)
  11. ^ David Sansone, Ancient Greek Civilization , 226 pp., Blackwell Publishing, 2004, ISBN 0-631-23236-2, 9780631232360 (see page 85)
  12. ^ M. A. Dandamayev, BARDA and BARDADä�Rä� in Encyclopedia Iranica
  13. ^ Ehsan Yar-Shater, W. B. Fisher, The Seleucid, Parthian and Sasanian periods , 1488 pp., Cambridge University Press, 1983, ISBN 0-521-24693-8, 9780521246934 (see p.635)
  14. ^ Evgeniä� Aleksandrovich Beliyayev, Arabs, Islam and the Arab Caliphate in the Early Middle Ages, 264 pp., Praeger Publishers, 1969 (see p.13)
  15. ^ K. D. Irani, Morris Silver, Social Justice in the Ancient World , 224 pp., Greenwood Publishing Group, 1995, ISBN 0-313-29144-6, 9780313291449 (see p.87)
  16. ^ K. D. Irani, Morris Silver, Social Justice in the Ancient World , 224 pp., Greenwood Publishing Group, 1995, ISBN 0-313-29144-6, 9780313291449 (see p.87)
  17. ^ K. D. Irani, Morris Silver, Social Justice in the Ancient World , 224 pp., Greenwood Publishing Group, 1995, ISBN 0-313-29144-6, 9780313291449 (see p.87)
  18. ^ K. D. Irani, Morris Silver, Social Justice in the Ancient World , 224 pp., Greenwood Publishing Group, 1995, ISBN 0-313-29144-6, 9780313291449 (see p.87)
  19. ^ Islam and Slavery
  20. ^ "Know about Islamic Slavery in Africa"
  21. ^ Battuta's Trip: Journey to West Africa (1351 - 1353)
  22. ^ Slavery in the Sahara
  23. ^ A Legacy Hidden in Plain Sight (washingtonpost.com)
  24. ^ Paul Finkelman, Joseph Calder Miller, Macmillan Encyclopedia of World Slavery, 1065 pp., Macmillan Reference USA, Simon & Schuster Macmillan, 1998, ISBN 0-02-864781-5, 9780028647814 (p.851)
  25. ^ Dionisius A. Agius, In the Wake of the Dhow The Arabian Gulf and Oman, 253 pp., Garnet & Ithaca Press, 2002, ISBN 0-86372-259-8, 9780863722592 (see p.22)
  26. ^ Islam and Slavery
  27. ^ Battuta's Trip: Anatolia (Turkey) 1330 - 1331
  28. ^ Chaman Andam, slavery in early 20th century Iran
  29. ^ Focus on the slave trade
  30. ^ The Unknown Slavery: In the Muslim world, that is -- and it's not over
  31. ^ West Asian views on black Africans during the medieval era
  32. ^ The Turco-Mongol Invasions
  33. ^ Bernard Lewis, What Went Wrong?: Western impact and Middle Eastern response, (Oxford University Press US, 2002), ISBN 0-19-514420-1, 9780195144208, page 88.
  34. ^ James Shepard Dennis, Christian Missions and Social Progress , Published by Fleming H. Revell company, 1897, Original from the University of Wisconsin - Madison, Digitized May 29, 2008 (see p.146)
  35. ^ W. A. Veenhoven, W. C. Ewing, S. P. Samenlevingen, Case Studies on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms: A World Survey, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 1975, ISBN 90-247-1956-9, 9789024719563 (see page 449)

[edit] Further reading

Last number(s) indicate pages:

A. Perikhanian (1983). "Iranian Society and Law". In Ehsan Yar-Shater, William Bayne Fisher, and Ilya Gershevitch. The Cambridge History of Iran. 5: Institutions. Cambridge University Press. pp. 634'640. ISBN 0521246938. 

Amir H. Mehryar, F. Mostafavi, & Homa Agha (2001-07-05). "Men and Family Planning in Iran" (PDF). The IUSSP XXIVth General Population Conference in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil, August 18'24, 2001. pp. 4. http://iussp.org./Brazil2001/s20/S22_P05_Mehryar.pdf. 

Related Articles & Resources

Sources Subject Index - Experts, Sources, Spokespersons

Sources Select Resources Articles

This article is based on one or more articles in Wikipedia, with modifications and additional content by SOURCES editors. This article is covered by a Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 3.0 License (CC-BY-SA) and the GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL). The remainder of the content of this website, except where otherwise indicated, is copyright SOURCES and may not be reproduced without written permission. (For information use the Contact form.)

SOURCES.COM is an online portal and directory for journalists, news media, researchers and anyone seeking experts, spokespersons, and reliable information resources. Use SOURCES.COM to find experts, media contacts, news releases, background information, scientists, officials, speakers, newsmakers, spokespeople, talk show guests, story ideas, research studies, databases, universities, associations and NGOs, businesses, government spokespeople. Indexing and search applications by Ulli Diemer and Chris DeFreitas.

For information about being included in SOURCES as a expert or spokesperson see the FAQ or use the online membership form. Check here for information about becoming an affiliate. For partnerships, content and applications, and domain name opportunities contact us.

Sources home page