DNA linked to slaves from Sierra Leone found in Maryland
Crownsville, MD (WJZ) — An archaeological discovery of major importance has been made in Anne Arundel County.
DNA was found on the grounds of an old slave quarter along Generals Highway.
The DNA was on a pipe stem has been linked to African Americans who were enslaved 200 years ago.
“So I had a sterilized DNA collection kit on site,” said Dr. Julie Schablitsky. “I kept it with me for the possibility of running into something like this. and of course as I expected these little white pipe stems started to pop up.”
Schablitsky is the chief archaeologist with Maryland Department of Transportation’s State Highway Administration.
The discovery was made by archaeologists from SHA who say it’s most closely related to Mende in Sierra Leone when Africans stepped onto slave ships. Its a powerful moment for the descendants of those enslaved.
“I live in Baltimore. My history begins and it ends in Baltimore,” said Wanda Watts, a Belvoir descendant. “Finding out they were able to pull DNA and connect us to the African continent is just overwhelming.”
The discovery was made near Belvoir, a historic house in Crownsville. Besides the pipe stems, much more was found.
“This particular slave quarter produced a lot of different domestic artifacts related to food preparation,” said Schablitsky. “So we found broken tea cups. We found bits of crab claws, pork, beef, all sorts of remains that would have been used to prepare and feed people over 200 years ago.”
Descendants said visiting a place where their ancestors one stood is a reminder of the strength of finding our roots.
“I want people to know that they can go out and they can do their genealogy and god knows what will turn up,” said Belvoir descendant Nancy Daniels. “They will be surprised like I was and my family was.”
Dr. Schablitsky believes its an important genetic breakthrough for archaeologists and more importantly, descendant communities.