The First Art Newspaper on the Net Established in 1996 United States Saturday, October 25, 2014


Researchers Say Slaves Hid African Charms on Colonial Greenhouse in Maryland
Excavation work inside the orangery at the Wye House in Easton, Md. Slaves left a long-secret African mark at the Maryland plantation where famed abolitionist Frederick Douglass spent part of his childhood: They cultivated a unique form of raising crops, built a greenhouse furnace, and concealed symbols and charms to ward off bad spirits, researchers said. AP Photo/UMD, John Blair and Stephanie Dunesing.

By: Alex Dominguez, Associated Press

BALTIMORE (AP).- The greenhouse on the Maryland plantation where famed abolitionist Frederick Douglass spent part of his childhood was not as uniquely European as once thought: Its furnace was built by slaves, who hid distinctly African touches within it to ward off bad spirits, researchers said.

A stone pestle to control spirits was concealed in brick ductwork used to heat the orangery — a type of greenhouse used to shield citrus and other trees from chilly winters — and University of Maryland archaeologists found charms buried at the structure's entrance, said excavation leader Mark Leone. The greenhouse was long considered a mark of European sophistication and was a status symbol of the era.

Douglass, whose adopted birthday is Feb. 14, described the cruelty of his enslavement after he was freed, though he didn't realize the slaves were helping create a unique agricultural practice, Leone said this week.

"What he must have seen as a boy is the creation and use of African-American gardening," Leone said.

Richard Westmacott, a University of Georgia professor emeritus and author of "African-American Gardening," said slaves were often chosen because of their agricultural skills. Many slaves brought to South Carolina, for example, had more experience growing rice than their owners, said Westmacott, who was not involved in the Maryland research.

However, in America they were also exposed to practices they had not seen in Africa, such as row crops and flower cultivation. From that, a distinct form of gardening evolved, he said.

By looking at pollens found during the Wye House dig, researchers found that the greenhouse was first used to grow flowering plants, shrubs and medicinal herbs, Leone said. By the 1820s, lemon and orange trees were being grown. They also found pollens from the rose family, lily, iris and nightshade, among others.

The pollen evidence matches Douglass' descriptions in his 1845 autobiography, "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass," written after his 1838 escape from slavery.

Douglass, who lived at the plantation near Easton along Maryland's eastern shore for several years in the mid-1820s, said the garden drew visitors from as far as Baltimore, about 40 miles away and across the Chesapeake Bay.

"It abounded in fruits of almost every description, from the hardy apple of the north to the delicate orange of the south," Douglass wrote.

Leone had previously led an excavation on the property that uncovered slave quarters and other buildings. Before that dig began, archaeologists contacted descendants of slaves who worked on the property, many of whom live nearby. The descendants were most interested in slave spirituality and the role the Wye House slaves had in blacks' fight for freedom.

Harriette Lowery, a descendant of Wye House slaves who lives in nearby Unionville, said it has been "almost spiritual" to have a connection to her ancestors.

"When they found spoons and pieces of bowls they worked with, just to be able to touch something that they touched was a feeling that I can't put into words," she said.

Lowery said her aunt, who recently died, was a church leader and extremely interested in the spiritual lives of the slaves. The discovery of the charms would have pleased her.

"So, to even find it out now puts a smile on my face because she would be very happy," Lowery said.

The excavation was conducted with the permission of Mary S. Tilghman, who inherited the property in 1993 and is an 11th-generation descendent of Edward Lloyd, who first settled the property.

Tilghman said she is committed to preserving the estate's history.

"This land has always been a part of my life," she said, "and its preservation comes as a duty."


Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.





Today's News

February 15, 2011

Madrid's Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza Presents an Exhibition Devoted to Jean-Léon Gérome

Egypt's Antiquities Minister Zahi Hawass Says Some Objects Looted from Museum Found

Bas-Relief of a Sacred Character Discovered by Mexican Archaeologists at El Tajin

Frick Collection Exhibition Considers Rembrandt Through the Eyes of Two Collectors

Milwaukee Art Museum Offers a Fresh Perspective on Frank Lloyd Wright with New Exhibition

150 Archaeology Graduates Protest Against Egypt's Antiquities Chief Zahi Hawass

Venetian and Flemish Masters from the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp on View in Brussels

Prince Philip: Celebrating Ninety Years at the Drawings Gallery in Windsor Castle

American Master David Smith Featured in Exhibition at the Phillips Collection in Washington

Researchers Say Slaves Hid African Charms on Colonial Greenhouse in Maryland

Rare Burges Furniture with Literary Connections Acquired for Bedford Museum

Property From The Life and Career of Musician Slash to Be Sold By Julien's Auctions

Outstanding Selection of Modern Drawings at Swan Galleries' Work on Paper Auction

Royal Peek-a-Boo: Kate's Sheer Dress to Be Sold

Surface/Tension: New Work by Kitty Kraus, Dan Shaw-Town and Gedi Sibony at Lisson Gallery

New Work by Los Angeles Native Artist Laurie Frick at Edward Cella Art + Architecture

"The Kiss" by Gustav Klimt Named Most Romantic Oil Painting for Valentine's Day 2011

September 11 Memorial to Have Limited Access to a Set Number of People for Years

Once Upon a Wartime: Classic War Stories for Children at the Imperial War Museum in London

Deep Impressions: Willie Cole Works on Paper at Memphis Brooks Museum of Art

International Survey of Experimental Film, Video and New Media at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

First Major U.S. Retrospective of Artist Richard Hawkins Travels to Los Angeles

Sketchy Intelligence: Artist Unveils Study of MI6

Anthony McNerney Appointed Head of Contemporary Art at Bonhams

Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx, Ty Cobb and Dozens of other Rare Autographed Baseballs at Heritage Auctions

Most Popular Last Seven Days



1.- Image of a Christ without a beard, short hair and wearing a toga unearthed in Spain

2.- Giant mosaic unearthed in mysterious tomb in Amphipolis in northern Macedonia

3.- Bonhams sale of 18th century French decorative arts to benefit Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

4.- Paris flustered by erection of 'sex-toy' sculpture; Paul McCarthy slapped by a passer-by

5.- High art or vile pornography? Marquis de Sade explored in Orsay museum exhibition

6.- 'Cubism: The Leonard A. Lauder Collection' opens at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

7.- Greek culture minister says Elgin Marbles return a matter of 'global heritage'

8.- Vandals deflate Paris 'sex-toy' sculpture by American artist Paul McCarthy after outrage

9.- Exhibition at National Gallery in London explores Rembrandt's final years of painting

10.- 'Hans Memling: A Flemish Renaissance' opens at the Scuderie del Quirinale in Rome



Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .

 

Founder:
Ignacio Villarreal
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal - Consultant: Ignacio Villarreal Jr.
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez - Marketing: Carla Gutiérrez
Special Contributor: Liz Gangemi - Special Advisor: Carlos Amador
Contributing Editor: Carolina Farias

Royalville Communications, Inc
produces:

ignaciovillarreal.org theavemaria.org juncodelavega.org facundocabral-elfinal.org
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
Hommage
to a Mexican poet.
Hommage
       

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site