Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Evidence of Early Slave Religious Practices Found

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Evidence of Early Slave Religious Practices Found

Article excerpt

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - The black and white pebbles and buttons, the bent pins, the crab claw unearthed in various locations from an eighteenth century row house in Annapolis probably did not get there by chance.

University of Maryland archaeologists say the items were remains of diviners bundles, also called conjurers bundles, hidden away by slaves who served the White occupants of the house beginning in the late 1700s.

The diviners bundles are proof that slaves forced to become Christians continued to practice elements of their West African religion long after the first slaves arrived in America, said Mark Leone, a professor of archeology.

"Generations of African Americans lived in this house. Long after their arrival from West Africa, their traditions of healing, prediction and safety had survived," Leone said.

The findings are part of a three-year dig at a house built in 1774 by John Ridout, then secretary to the provincial governor of Maryland.

Such row houses were common in London, but "it's unusual in the United States to find high-style brick row houses like this," said Lynn Jones, who has worked on the dig for three seasons as part of her doctoral degree in archeology. …

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