Concise Dictionary of Ancient Slavery

The goal of the project Forschungen zur antiken Sklaverei [Studies in Ancient Slavery], initiated in December 1950 by the Tübingen historian of antiquity Joseph Vogt (1895-1986), is to study slavery in all its manifestations from as many perspectives as possible, using all appropriate methods. This is intended to create the foundation for a scientific analysis and evaluation of slavery as a central and controversial aspect of ancient society. The project's home is the Mainzer Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Literatur [Mainz Academy of Sciences and Literature], which was founded in July of 1949 in the spirit of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. Today it is one of a total of 69 research projects supported by the Mainz Academy, and it is the responsibility of the Commission for the History of Antiquity, one of 27 commissions the Mainz Academy has in the category of humanities and social sciences. Like all Academy projects, it is committed to interdisciplinary approach and long-term basic research.

Although the project has not remained unchallenged (H. Bellen: Die antike Sklaverei als moderne Herausforderung. In: Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Literatur Mainz 1949-1989. Mainz - Stuttgart 1989, 201f.), it can be considered "one of the greatest and most productive research projects in German studies of antiquity since the Second World War" (K. Christ).

The Handwoerterbuch der antiken Sklaverei (Concise Dictionary of Ancient Slavery) will collect, evaluate and concisely present the growth in knowledge and insights achieved by the project, as well as the results of national and international research on slavery. In doing so, the project would like to provide a tool for future research that has been lacking so far, and make the advances in the assessment of ancient slavery accessible to a broader circle.

The Handwoerterbuch der antiken Sklaverei (Concise Dictionary of Ancient Slavery) has been conceived as an alphabetical reference work for the field of "Ancient slavery". As a descriptive encyclopaedia, it includes persons, things and terms. It is mainly oriented toward specialists in the field. To serve the purpose of everyday usage and also to appeal to those in related disciplines and broader circles, it should be generally comprehensible, clear and readable. The term "Ancient slavery" is therefore broadly defined. In addition to the other types of forced labour in ancient times and should, besides the research fields of the Mediterranean (Ancient Near East, Egypt, Carthage, etc.) as well. Related forms of dependency in civilizations outside of Europe (India, China, Japan, America, etc.) will also be included. Contributions on the history of slave studies and reception will round out the dictionary. The concise dictionary will include approximately 1000 keywords of various levels of emphasis. These will consist of short entries (5-10 lines); small entries, 1/2 to 1 column (25-51 lines); medium-length entries, 1-2 columns; long entries, 3-4 columns; and overview articles (5-6 columns). The total length is intended to be approximately 3800 columns, each with 51 lines of about 50 characters. In the printed version, the concise dictionary will consist of three large-format volumes, each with approximately 600 pages, as well as an index volume, and will appear as Supplement 5 in the series Forschungen zur antiken Sklaverei (Studies in Ancient Slavery).

In order to ensure quick publication of the available contributions that have already been edited, cumulative publication is organised in a series of individual electronic installments (distributed by Franz Steiner Verlag). When all advantages and disadvantages are considered, this process offers a cost-effective, timely, copyrighted presentation that is citable as well as manageable from an editorial point of view. The contributions will be collected after editing and published on CD-ROM/DVD when a specific number (approx. 480 columns) have been submitted. The first four installments are published, HAS V will follow soon. After all the articles are on hand and older articles have been updated, a conventional book version is planned.

The main language of publication is German; however, articles in English, French, Italian and Spanish will also be accepted.


Print Format


Specimen page

List of Abbreviations

Greek (Fonts and keys)

Database on terms of ancient slavery (can be accessed by the contributors)


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Stand: 28. Juni 2013