The Impact of the Presbyterian Church in the Caribbean
Gone But Not Forgotten
The Economic Function and Social Location of Babylonian Servitude
This contribution looks at Babylonian slaves and servants as they appear in 322 Old Babylonian letters. This corpus has not been used for this purpose before, and now reveals that the primary economic functions of slaves had to do with information and credit in an economic environment of mercantilism, rather than with labor in the agricultural sector. Cuneiform letters, rarely mentioning work, instead emphasized the independent movement of slaves, their delegation as proxies to their masters to conduct business, and their capacity to serve as collateral for loans. The analysis of this evidence permits a deeper look at the ethics of care and control that conditioned the relations of masters and slaves, and what we can now say about the personhood of slaves and servants.