School of History, Classics & Archaeology

Slavery and forced labour in Ancient China and the Ancient Mediterranean

Professor Walter Scheidel, Stanford University, will present a public lecture on 'Slavery and Forced Labour in Ancient China and the Ancient Mediterranean', 6pm, Monday 3 June 2013, Teviot Lecture Theatre, Old Medical School, Teviot Place.

This events has passed, but you can view a recording below.


Professor Scheidel is Dickason Professor in the Humanities, Professor of Classics and History and Chair of the Department of Classics at Stanford University.

Well known internationally as a speaker, author and as the creator of ORBIS (the Stanford Geospatial Network Model of the Roman World), Professor Scheidel‘s research focuses on ancient social and economic history, especially historical demography, labour and state formation.


In an abstract from a recent paper on a similar theme, Professor Scheidel said:

“The use of coerced labour in the form of chattel slavery in the private sector has long been regarded as one of the defining characteristics of the ancient Greek and Roman economies. It may even have been critical in producing the surplus that sustained the ruling class.

“In early China, by contrast, forced labour (often by convicts) appears to have been concentrated in the public sector”.

In his talk, Professor Scheidel will look at both systems comparatively, in order to investigate whether the differences were genuine and significant, and whether they can be related to observed outcomes in terms of general economic and socio-political development.

Book now – it’s free

This event is free but ticketed. Book below.