Young boy in Vietnam looking over a bridge where those vulnerable to human trafficking sleep

Documentaries specifically focusing on slavery before the Transatlantic Slave Trade are relatively rare, as most tend to concentrate on the Transatlantic period due to its extensive historical documentation and impact. However, there are some documentaries and series that explore ancient and medieval forms of slavery or provide context for understanding slavery’s broader historical scope. Here are five recommendations:

  1. Ancient Rome: The Rise and Fall of an Empire”  – While not exclusively about slavery, this BBC documentary series offers insights into Roman society, where slavery was a central element. It provides a comprehensive view of the Roman Empire, including the role and life of slaves.


  1. Lost Worlds: The Story of Archaeology” – This series includes episodes that delve into ancient civilizations where slavery was practiced, such as Egypt, Greece, and Rome. It offers archaeological insights into these societies, including aspects of slavery.


  1. Engineering an Empire” – Produced by The History Channel, this series explores the engineering feats of various ancient empires. Episodes focusing on civilizations like Rome and Egypt indirectly provide context for understanding the role of slaves in building these monumental structures.


  1. Slavery and the Making of America” – This PBS documentary series, while primarily focused on American slavery, includes early episodes that provide the historical backdrop of slavery, touching upon its origins and how it evolved over time into the Transatlantic Slave Trade.


  1. Spartacus” – This documentary explores the story of Spartacus, the famous slave who led a major uprising against the Roman Republic. It offers insight into the conditions of slavery in ancient Rome and the resistance against it.


These documentaries and series provide a broader understanding of slavery in historical contexts before the Transatlantic Slave Trade. They offer insights into how slavery was integrated into various ancient and medieval societies and help in understanding the evolution of this inhumane practice.