Slave Life on the Large Farms: Work, Organization, and Surveillance

  • Brent D. Shaw
Part of the The Bedford Series in History and Culture book series (BSHC)


On the new agricultural plantations, or latifundia, that developed in Italy and Sicily between the third and second centuries b.c., the core permanent labor force was made up of large numbers of slaves who had been purchased from abroad. This new type of market-oriented agriculture generated handbooks to instruct farm owners how to run a large agricultural operation. According to the ideal farm model, slaves were deployed in small work units of ten to twelve men under the close supervision of overseers. To maintain a dependable level of security over larger numbers of slaves, owners often confined them in barracks at night and when they were not working in the fields.


Farm Manager Large Farm Estate Owner Herd Animal Roman Family 
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Copyright information

© Bedford/St. Martin’s 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brent D. Shaw
    • 1
  1. 1.University of PennsylvaniaUSA

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