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A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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DNA Obtained From Tobacco Pipe at Maryland Plantation

Friday, March 15, 2019

Maryland Belvoir PipeANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY, MARYLAND—WTOP reports that female human DNA has been obtained from a 200-year-old tobacco pipe discovered in the slave quarters at Belvoir, a Maryland plantation. “Using modern DNA databases,” said archaeologist Julie Schablitsky of the Maryland Department of Transportation, it was “found that the person that smoked that particular tobacco pipe was most genetically similar to the Mende of Sierra Leone [in] West Africa.” Descendants of the enslaved people who once lived at Belvoir have been involved in the research, but the woman who smoked this pipe has not yet been linked to any living relatives. To read in-depth about excavations at Belvoir, go to “Letter from Maryland: Belvoir's Legacy.”

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