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Darius West

The History of New Pavis 1579-1610

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20 hours ago, Joerg said:

So urbanization and slavery go hand in hand, and mistreatment of slaves too?

Sorry, I was under the opinion that nearly all forms of slavery are a form of mistreatment.  The notion being that real warfare begins with food scarcity, and that begins with agriculture, and so does urbanization.  Rather than slaughtering an entire population of rivals for their food reserves, some are spared and forced to work as low class assimilates.  Few known hunter cultures are slave owners, and most nomad cultures don't bother with slaves beyond the kidnap of wives, or when they conquer settled peoples.  As to the notion of urbanization going hand in hand with the mistreatment of slaves, I would suggest it is more a case of slavery being the precondition of mistreatment and an economic outgrowth of the agriculture that feeds urbanization, so they look like they go together , but the intermediate steps are missing.

20 hours ago, Joerg said:

Were these slaves worked to death? There is little evidence for the greek landholders to work their agricultural slaves to death, so why the mining slaves?

The key to the conditions is in the form of work.  Field work is hard, but the conditions are open air and mainly sunlight.  Mines are, by comparison, dark, and full of dust that you probably shouldn't inhale, and the conditions are cramped so the spread of disease is easier, and one falling rock can kill you, let alone a tremor.  There is also a frequent problem with breathable air.  As a former miner you are no doubt well aware of all the effort that goes into pumping air into the works, right?  Well, there were no oxygen pumps back then, and depending on the era, there may have been large flooding issues too.  Even today in Russian mines  the workers die pretty regularly due to accidents.  Now, we both know that modern techniques have beaten most of these problems, and in a family or clan run enterprise with free workers, there is an impetus to protect the workers.  Any way you slice it though, the work remains dirty and dangerous, and that is the very definition of what you use slave labor for. Did the Greeks deliberately work slaves to death in mines?  I don't think they had to.  I think the work did that whether they wanted to keep the slaves alive or not, and then the owners simply became indifferent about it, as slave boys and bad slaves being re-sold were disposable, and if the profits were high enough you could afford to buy more of them.  It all goes into the bottom line.

20 hours ago, Joerg said:

I was talking about removing huge amounts of collapsed structure to return to a cut off mother lode because disposable slaves disposed of themselves and months of labor and use of firewood in a careless or exhausted accident. That's not economical.

Agreed, it isn't economical, but it happens, and it can put mines out of business.  Now, not to disparage the ancients too much, but their methods were, like their technology and science, appropriate to their time period.  Archaeologists know with certainty from re-working the tailings of ancient mines that their extraction rate was pitiful.  It is likely that they were aiming specifically for visible nuggets of ore or very obvious lode bearing reefs.  Now I have seen a few badly run mines, where the investors have been ruined because they were chasing fresh ore bodies after old ones tapped out, and they dug in the wrong places.  Obviously you dig exploratory adits and test your assays  to see what rate per ton you have available, but if you are inattentive, you can make mistakes.  This is where those mining rolls come in I suspect, and much depends on them.

20 hours ago, Joerg said:

The methods observed and collected by Agricola are the summary of the last 300 years of mining, if not even longer. His illusrations and descriptions describe a status quo, not a future development.

I defer to your expertise on Georg Agricola. I have only come across him referenced in other people's work, and not read Agricola myself.

20 hours ago, Joerg said:

So these are Roman methods?The lesson I took from the history of the Roman Empire was that their conquests were pretty much were tied to getting control over native mining in neighboring "barbarian" realms. This was true for the conquests of the Macedons, Gallia, the Noricum, the Dacians, and probably other places in the Near East.Unless these slaves were cheaper than dogs or similar small husbandry, I don't quite see the profit in using up workforce you had to buy this way, when you could treat under-privileged plebeians in a similar inhuman way.

Yes, a lot of my interest and reading has been about Roman mining.  For example, most people are unaware that Gaul was incredibly rich in gold and other metals in Roman times, and that was one of the primary reasons for Julius Caesar invading the region.  As to the misuse of the plebs, strangely enough they had laws against that.  Republican Rome considered the plebeians to be their primary source of reliable recruits, and didn't trust foreign "barbarians" the way they did in the Late Imperial Period, when they had no choice.  Now this is not to say that they didn't use foul tricks to force plebeians from their land (because they definitely did that), but there was a guild system in Rome, and there were Plebeian representatives.  Viciously exploiting Plebs could have consequences in a way that viciously exploiting slaves didn't, as slaves were "chattels, not people".

20 hours ago, Joerg said:

Even when captured in official warfare, those slaves don't come without an economical investment by the end user.

Absolutely correct.  In fact, slaves are a huge drag on the economy, as at every opportunity they will "steal their labor from their master" i.e. find a reason not to be working.  You cannot really trust slaves to do good skilled work either, as often they will find opportunities for sabotage or other mischief.  Even the slaveholders in the USA had to eventually admit that a freed slave was "a better exploiter of himself" than they ever were able to manage.  So this meant that slaves were primarily of value in laboring jobs, and mining was one such job, for there is a lot of laboring quite apart from the actual skilled parts of the work.  Now obviously unless one  captured slaves through one's own business interests, and indeed even if you did, there were costs associated with keeping a slave, and the trick was in how to best get the slave to pay for your investment.  One of the solutions in Rome and the Ottoman empire was to make slavery less onerous, and allow slaves to effectively take jobs, where they paid their owner a portion of their ongoing wage, and put aside money to purchase their freedom.  That answer worked pretty well, as it provided the slaves with an incentive other than the negative incentive of  avoiding a whipping.  In fact, punishing slaves was uneconomical as an injured slave is less productive.  This is why eventually most societies abandoned overt slavery for wage slavery.;)

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