Evidence of slave life found at Eastern Shore estat

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One day more than two centuries ago, a Maryland slave of West African descent took a smooth stone he had probably found in a ploughed field and slid it between the bricks of a furnace he was building.

The slave might have believed, as West Africa's Yoruba culture held, that such stones had connections to Eshu-Elegba, the deity of fortune, and were left behind like mystical calling cards after a lightning strike.

The bond servant sealed the stone into the brickwork, where it would stay for generations, an artifact of the enslaved man as much as the god whose favor he sought.

On Monday the University of Maryland will unveil, among other things, details of the stone's discovery at the famous Wye House "orangery" - a jewel of European architecture, now found to have imprints of the slaves who built it.

The discoveries were made over the past few years by a team headed by anthropology professor Mark Leone on an Eastern Shore estate where abolitionist Frederick Douglass once was a slave.

The team also found West African-style charms buried at the entrance to what turned out to be the slave quarters at the orangery, which was a state-of-the art greenhouse, and pollen from exotic plants the slaves used....

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