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- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - From time immemorial?The classical empires of Greece and Rome were based on slave labor.He found substantial evidence of integration of Black Africans in the occupational hierarchies of the ancient Mediterranean empires and Black-white intermarriage.Black and mixed race gods appeared in Mediterranean art, and at least one Roman emperor, Septimius Severus, was an African.Ancient Greece and Rome fought wars of conquest against peoples they presumed to be less advanced.Religious scholars interpreted the Hebrew Bible's "curse of Ham" from the story of Noah to condemn Africans to slavery.
As long as human beings have been around, the argument goes, they have always hated or feared people of a different nation or skin color.
About 13 percent of slaves (1.5 million) died during the Middle Passage--the trip by boat from Africa to the New World.
The African slave trade--involving African slave merchants, European slavers and New World planters in the traffic in human cargo--represented the greatest forced population transfer ever.
Cultural and religious associations of the color white with light and angels and the color black with darkness and evil persisted.
But none of these cultural or ideological factors explain the rise of New World slavery or the "modern" notions of racism that developed from it.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - The African slave trade The slave trade lasted for a little more than 400 years, from the mid-1400s, when the Portuguese made their first voyages down the African coast, to the abolition of slavery in Brazil in 1888.