Monday, March 18, 2019

DNA Recovered from Enslaved Woman

An article recently published in The Guardian shares the discovery of DNA from an enslaved African woman in a 200-year-old piece of pipe. The piece of pipe was discovered at the Belvoir plantation (pictured below) in Crownsville, Maryland. Belvoir was home to enslaved people through 1864, and a slave cemetery has been located on the property. The pipe was detected during research around Belvoir. Researchers have been conducting analysis in this area with the hopes of giving descendants of enslaved persons new insight into their ancestor’s lives. 
Archaeologists have used the recovered DNA to create a picture of the enslaved woman.
The DNA recovered was saliva that had dried into the clay pipe. It has been determined that she died approximately 200 years ago and that she originated from Sierra Leone, a modern-day country in Western Africa. The analysis of the pipe was conducted at the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign.
I was very intrigued by this article for two reasons. First, I like the connection between science and history. Through this research project, unknown American history has been discovered and images have been created. This work can be extremely meaningful to descendants of slaves who lived at Belvoir. Second, I think it is crazy that saliva and the DNA contained in it have survived centuries. 

1 comment:

  1. It is so crazy to see how far genetics have come these days. The fact that scientist are even able to recover over 200 year old DNA from an old pipe is remarkable. It is also really great that they are able to provide answers fo things we don't have answers for.