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Enslaved children in Roman Egypt : experiences from the Papyri

Pudsey, April and Vuolanto, Ville (2022) Enslaved children in Roman Egypt : experiences from the Papyri. In: Slavery in the Late Antique World, 150 – 700 CE. Cambridge University Press, pp. 210-223. ISBN 9781108476225 (hardback); 9781108568159 (ebook)

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The ancient Mediterranean was home to a youthful population. Demographic dynamics favoured a relatively high proportion of children and adolescents who were visibly present in their multitudes in the cities, towns, and villages; a significant proportion of these young people were of slave status, some having been enslaved or, as is more likely, born into slavery. The presence and lives of enslaved persons are documented plentifully in textual, material, and literary evidence from across the Greco-Roman world, though almost all of this material reflects the concerns and attitudes of the slave-owning echelons of society, and we have no extant narrative testimony from any enslaved person from Roman Antiquity. Further, though the existence of children and young people is mentioned in key sources on, and studies of, Roman slavery, a specifically youth-focused perspective is meagre.

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