A team of archaeologists at the University of Maryland made an interesting discovery at a decade-long excavation at Wye House, a former plantation near Easton, Maryland, where Frederick Douglass spent some time as a child.
In excavations where an African American tenant farmer’s house once stood in the years immediately following Emancipation, the University of Maryland team found traditional African religious symbols side-by-side with symbols relating to Christianity. At the site they found a cosmogram, a circle with an X inside that is a West Central African religious symbol. They also found a symbol for the blazing chariot wheel mentioned in the Bible’s book of Ezekiel. Eventually, these two symbols merged into one and it remains meaningful to the African American religious community in the area.
Mark P. Leone, a professor of anthropology at the University of Maryland, stated that “no one has found this combination before. Christianity had not erased traditional African spirit practices; it had merged with them to form a potent blend that still thrives today.”
A video about the archaeology project can be seen below.