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Slave raiding

Slave raiding is the military practice of performing a raid for the purpose of capturing people and bring them out of the raid area to serve as slaves. Sometimes seen as a normal part of warfare it is nowadays widely considered a crime. The practice of slave raiding is known to have occurred since antiquity. Some of the earliest surviving written records of slave raiding are from Sumer in Iraq.


The act of slave raiding involves an organized and concerted attack on a settlement or with the purpose being the taking of the areas' people. The people collected are enslaved. Once turned into slaves, they are often kept in some form of slave pen. From the pen, the slave takers will then move the slaves to some form of transportation such as a ship or camel caravan.

Slave raiding was a violent method of economic development where a resource shortage was addressed with the acquisition by force of the desired resource, in this case human labor. Other than the element of slavery being present, such violent seizure of a resource does not differ from similar raids to gain territory, oil, food, water or any other desired commodity.

Slave raiding was a large and lucrative trade on the coasts of Africa, in ancient Europe, Mesoamerica and in medieval Asia. The Crimean-Nogai raids into East Slavic lands provided some two or three million slaves to the Ottoman Empire over the course of four centuries. The Atlantic slave trade was predicated on European countries endorsing and supporting slave raiding between African tribes to supply the mass quantities of Africans, who became the workforce of agricultural plantations in the Americas.

The many alternative methods of obtaining human beings to work in indentured or other involuntary conditions, as well as cultural changes, have made slavery rare and raiding rarer.