Prisoners of War

A prisoner of war is a person captured or placed into detainment by an opposing power as a result of war. Captives of war spared on the battlefield, but then are forced into slavery. In many situations, large groups of people from defeated countries were deported and placed foreign lands. Thus, this would prevent the captives from coming together and organizing a collective riot or rebellion.  Many others were dragged in large numbers to their homeland and forced to work on public projects and in royal domains.

Some were sold into slavery because of debts or sold themselves to escape poverty. As indentured slaves they did not lose all their civil rights; and sometimes the economic security they gained through their new status might seem to be worth giving up some freedoms for (Gelb).

Prisoners of war were a great way for these nations to protect themselves. The slaves would be put to work building giant fortresses to protect the city-state. This type of work was the most common among prisoners of war and slaves (Gadd).


Gadd, Cyril John. History and monuments of Ur. Ayer Co Pub, 1929.
Gelb, F. “Prisoners of War in Early Mesopotamia,” Journal of Near Eastern Studies 32 (1973), 70-98

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