The Slave Trade in the Central Middle Ages

Table: Prices of Slaves in the Eastern Mediterranean Regions 9th-11th c

Date  MilieuThe Merchandized Person



9th cConstantinopleTax on one slave2 nom.Theoph. Conf., A.M. 6302
9th cConstantinopleSlave10 nom.Proch. Nom. 14.5
11th cConstantinoplePrice of a slave20 nom.Peira, Zepos Jus Graecoromanum, vol.4, p. 83-84
1050Asia MinorPrice of a slave, murderer, sold to a bishop24 nom.Ralles-Potles,vol.5, pp. 48-49 (=Grumel, no. 887)
873EgyptWoman slave (her "vices" are indicated)12.5 dinarRagib I
875EgyptWoman slave, "yellow"/('White') house born30 dinarRagib II
893EgyptWoman slave, "yellow"/('White'), Berber, (her "vices" are indicated)14 dinarRagib III
895EgyptWoman slave, her daughter and grandson10 1/6 dinarRagib IV
896EgyptWoman slave, "black"14 dinarRagib V
922-923EgyptWoman Slave, "black"16.5 dinarRagib VI
966EgyptWoman slave, Nubian15 dinarRagib VII
977EgyptWoman slave, Garamante25 dinarRagib VIII
983EgyptWoman slave, Nubian13 dinarRagib IX
994EgyptWoman slave, Nubian, her duaghter an grandson, bought nd sold

40 dinar

49 dinar

Ragib X-XI
10th - 12th cEgyptAverage price of a woman slave20 dinarDiverse Geniza documents
995EgyptWoman slave, "Rumiyya" (byzantine)Estimated at 80 dinarGoitein, A Mediterranean Society..., op. cit., vol.1, p.138, 433, note 45
11th cEgyptWoman slaveEstimated at 40 dinarGoitein, A Meditteranean Society..., op. cit.,vol.1, p.139, 434, note 64
ca. 1070EgyptWoman slave, SoudanEstimated at 30 dinarGoitein, A mediterranean Society..., op. cit., vol.1, p.137, 433, note 38
1084-1108EgyptWomen slavs, Nubian15-20 dinarGoitein, A Mediterranean Society..., op. cit., vol.1, p. 137, 433, note 39

Woman slave and her daughter, Nubian 

The same woman without her daughter

28 dinar          

20 dinar     

Goitein, A Mediterranean Society..., op. cit., vol.1, p. 137, 433, note 40
11th cEgyptWoman slave, Byzantine and Christian (mentioned in comparison to other slaves)20 dinar (zehuvim)Geniza: T.-S. 13

Value of a refugee, man

Value of a refugee, woman

Value of a refugee, child

30 dinar

20 dinar

15 dinar

The Aleppo treaty


Table: Ransom Prices of Captives in the Eastern Mediterranean Regions 9th-11th c

Date  MilieuThe CaptivePrice (nom.=nomisma)Reference
1010ThessalyA land sale for the ransoming of the owner's son, kidnapped by muslim pirates15 nom.Acts of Iviron I. 16
11 cEgypt3 captives, mostly men100 dinar (zehuvim)Diverse Geniza documents
11 cEgyptJewish woman24 dinar (zehuvim)+ taxGeniza: MS. Adler 2804
11 cEgypt200 persons (=25 dinar per person)5,000 dinarGeniza: T.-S. Loan 28 fol. 1
806 CyprusBishop2,000 dinarAl-Tabari
998AntiochThe son of the doux Dalassenos6,000 dinar Ibn al-Qalanisi
1014AlepMansur bin Lulu, the Fatimid governor of Aleppo50,000 dinarIbn al-'Adim
1032AntiochExarch500 dinar Yahya ibn Sa'id al-Antaki
1066EdessaThe doux of the city20,000Bar Hebraeus
10 cPalestine3 persons kidnapped by the Byzantines100 dinarAl-Muqaddasi
10 cIfriqiya3 monks kidnapped from the Peloponnesus100 nom.The spiritually beneficial tales of Paul, Bishop of Monembasia
11 cIfriqiya3 persons kidnapped and brought to Ifriqiya100 nom.Life of Nil of Rossano
925ApuiliaGovernor5,000 dinarAl-Bayan e'Arib I, p. 195
11 cSicily3 persons kidnapped and brought to the emir of Palermo100 nom.Life of Nil of Rossano


Table: Price and Salaries in the Eastern Mediterranean Regions 9th-11th c

Type of Merchandise/SalaryPrice in Byzantium (in nomisma)Price in Egypt (in dinar)

























Real Estate:

City house

Country house





504 (mansions in Ierissos, Chalkidiki)

20 (house in Taranto)

6-10 (shop price in Constantinople)


120-210 (Rich house in Cairo/Alexandria)

2-11 (small house in the countryside)

2-3 (annual rent of a country house)

1.5 (annual rent of a shop)

Wheat, price of 1kg, regular price

Wheat, price of 1kg, in economic crisis            

0.0065 nom (modios thalassioa = 1/12 nom., 1 litter = 0.005 nom) 

0.0394 nom (modios thalassios = 1/2 nom., 1 litter = 0.029 nom.) equal to 600%+ of the regular price

0.00913 dinar (waiba = 1/9 dinar, 1 litter = 0.007 dinar)

0.014-0.06+ dinar (tillis = 0.96-4+ dinar, 1 litter = 0.01-0.0456+dinar), equal to 50%-600%+ of the regular price

Salary, month wages:

Day worker, private sector

Day worker, public sector

Civil servant                



0.25-1 nom. per month (3-8 folles per day)       


1.66-2.5 nom. per month (20-30+ nom. per year)

30-60 nom. per month (360-720 nom. per year)

Chef of thema: 233.33 nom. per month (2880 nom. per year)


0.8-6 dinar per month (1-7 dirham)                            

1-1.3 dinar per month                                                 

2-7 dinar per month   

70-180 dinar per month

vizir: 5,000 dinar per month                                               



Table: The Value of Slaves in Merchandise and Salary

Type of Merchandise/SalaryThe Value of Slave Man in Byzantium (=20-25 nomisma)The Value of a Slave Man in Egypt=33 dinar)The Value of a Slave Woman in Egypt (=15-25 dinar)
Livestock1.5-2 horses2-3 horses1.5-2 horses
Real estate

1-1.25 houses in Taranto

2-4 shops in constantinople

3-16 small country houses

shop rent for 22 years

1.5-12 small country houses

shop rent for 10-16.6 years

Wheat (regular price)3072-3840 kg (=240-300 thalasioi )3614 kg (=297 waibat)1642-2738 kg (=135-225 waibat)

Salaries of:

Day worker, private sector

Civil servant

High dignitary


20-100 months wage                    

8-15 months wage

1/3-1 months wage


5.5-41 months wage                 

4.7-16 months wage

0.18-2 months wage


2.5-31.25 months wage                 

2-13.5 months wage

0.083-0.36 wage


Based on Youval Rotman, Byzantine Slavery and the Mediterranean World, Harvard University Press: Cambridge Ma., 2009, ISBN: 978-0-674-03611-6

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