Twentieth Century Slave Barracks Discovered in Maryland

The 34-foot by 34-foot quarters show exactly where enslaved persons worked and walked 150 to 250 years ago.

Posted: 08/04/2014 02:11 PM EDT
Twentieth Century Slave Barracks Discovered in Maryland

A significant archaeological find providing a glimpse of life 200 years ago has recently been uncovered in Anne Arundel County, Maryland.

Originally digging for signs of the 1781 encampment of American Revolution French Commander Jean-Baptiste Rochambeau, the State Highway Administration instead came across slave quarters only a few feet away from a onetime plantation home. A private school called Rockbridge Academy currently owns the 175-acre property that sits atop the 34-foot by 34-foot barracks.

"To be able to have those surfaces survive in an archaeological context is astounding,” SHA chief archaeologist Julie Schablitsky told WBAL. "You can see that the bricks here are turned on their end, and there are some wear marks in here. This is the exact surface where they worked and walked 150 to 250 years ago.”

Archaeologists are reportedly still finding artifact after artifact at the slave quarters site. Everyday items like ceramics, nails and parts of a medicine bottle have been found thus far.

"All these things sort of tell us what they ate, how they supplemented their diet, what they did in their spare time and how this building was used,” Adam Fracchia, a field tech from the University of Maryland, told WBAL.

In addition to artifacts from the slave quarters, evidence of Civil War activity has also been discovered.

This project and several other archaeological digs along a local highway are a part of a federally funded grant to explore the history of transportation in the area.

"It's all that is important to future highway planning, as well as the history of Maryland," Schablitsky said.

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(Photo: WBALTV-Baltimore, NBC Local News)

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