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Title: Real Slave Prices and the Relative Cost of Slave Labor in the Greco-Roman World
Author(s): SCHEIDEL, W.
Journal: Ancient Society
Volume: 35    Date: 2005   
Pages: 1-17
DOI: 10.2143/AS.35.0.2003839

Abstract :
Measured in relation to daily wages and the cost of grain, slave prices were low in classical Athens but high in Roman Egypt and other parts of the Roman empire during the Principate. Slave prices in Roman Republican Italy are very poorly known but were probably relatively low. This pattern is consistent with a broader model of the economics of chattel slavery in the ancient Mediterranean and beyond that suggests that the success of slavery as a labor regime critically depended on the relationship between labor supply and labor demand. Whereas unpredictable and time-consuming commitments among the citizenry, and high mobility and easy access to slaves were conducive to the spread of slave labor, weak commitments, low mobility and settled labor markets had the opposite effect.

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