Genocide in the ancient world

The term genocide coined by Polish writer Raphael Lemkin in 1944 by adding a Greek word ’geno’ which means race or tribe and a Latin word ’cide’ which means killing. It means the killing of ethnic, religious or national groups.

There is another term very much similar to it, gendercide. Which means exterminating the male population of conquered people and then women and children incorporated in the society of conquering the world or sold as a slave.

It could happen due to the expansion of an empire through conquering the other nation. Which they do to silence any resistance from the conquered people that could arise in future.

There are many examples of genocide done by a major group in any society to the minor groups. Such as Armenian genocide, where majority of Muslim ethnic group, Turks, had exterminated minor Armenian ethnic who were Christians in the Ottoman Empire in the First World War.

Genocide in ancient and medieval world:

Some anthropologist believe that the first case of genocide was the extermination of the human species Neanderthal. Though others believe it to be natural extinction.

Destruction of the Assyrian empire in 612 — 609 which consisted of parts of the Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, Iran and Egypt, a first true empire of in the world by the Babylonians from the south of Mesopotamia and Medes northwestern Iran.

The destruction of Melos, an island in Aegean sea 110 km from mainland Greece, by Athens during 431–404 bc. Though means had old ties with Sparta, a city now in Greece, but they chose to be neutral in the war between Sparta and Athens. A Contemporary Athenian Historian Thucydides described it in the Melian dialogue that Athens demanded Melos to surrender or to face annihilation. Melian refused to do so, so Athens laid siege to their cities but when after a few month Melos surrender, Athens ordered to kill all the Melian males and sold women and children of malos to slavery.

Ancient map

New map

According to the Hebrew Bible chapter no. 31, Moses, an important prophet of Judaism, led 1000 males from each of its twelve tribe to destroy midians in the 13-century bc. It recorded that the Israeli army killed everyman.

Carthage: In 149–16 bc the war between the Carthage in Africa and the Roman empire, when Carthage refused to surrender when it heard the conditions that the cities will be destroyed and inhabitants will be relocated to another place. Roman ordered the killing of its inhabitants and survivors were sold as slaves.

In 88bc, King mithridates VI of Pontus, present-day turkey, ordered the murder of all the Romans and Italian living in its region and that provoked roman to led the war.

Mongol: In 13th century AD Genghis khan considered the cruellest of all the conquerer. He ordered all the males of bukhara to be slaughtered, its treasure were looted and destruction of the cities. They didn’t spare women and children. same thing he did to many other cities such as Samarkand and Merv. Though it is impossible to know for sure many historians put the number of slaughter around 40 million and perhaps the world population may have reduced by 11%.

Tamer lane, Timur lung: Born in late 14th century this turbo-Mongol conquerer was very brutal. In his campaigns tens of millions people may have slaughtered. In 1383 he conquered Persia and massacred those who did not surrendered. In 1398 he entered in India, destroyed cities on the way to delhi and killed many people. A year later he turned his wrath to west to Egypt and Ottoman Empire and killed many of its inhabitants. He ordered the slaughtered of Shi’ites, Jews, Georgian, Armenian Christian, grabs, Persian and Turks alike.

There are many more examples of genocide and most of all had to do with invasion or expansion of an empire.