Posts Tagged ‘slaves’

Did slavery cause rapid natural selection among African Americans?

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

(io9) Ashley Michelle Williams has a fascinating article over at theGrio about a recent study that offers evidence that the harsh conditions of slavery subjected the African American population to strong evolutionary pressures. This could help explain what appear to be recent mutations in the genomes of African Americans. Williams writes:

Researchers found that of the African-American genomes in their sample, only 22 percent of the DNA analyzed came from Europeans. The remaining DNA was found to come from purely African ancestors, a finding in alignment with previous discoveries.

The main result of the study was that certain disease-causing variant genes were found to have become more common in African-Americans after their ancestors reached American shores — possibly because they presented greater benefits, according to an article published by the team in Genome Research.

Full story…

Evidence of slave lifestyle found in historic Frederick Douglass greenhouse

Monday, February 14th, 2011

(Discovery News) In his eloquent autobiographies, abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass described the cruelty he experienced as an African-American slave in Maryland during the early 19th century. But Douglass’ descriptions may have been missing some important details about the richness of slave culture at the time.

In a greenhouse on a centuries-old estate where Douglass lived as a young boy, archaeologists have dug up a variety of both mundane objects and strategically placed symbols of spirituality. These artifacts show for the first time that slaves lived in the greenhouse and that they sustained African religious traditions, even as they probably outwardly practiced Christianity.

By analyzing grains of fossilized pollen from the site, researchers were also able to show that the slaves used a corner of the greenhouse to experiment with plants for food, medicinal and household purposes — beginning what would become an African-American gardening tradition.

Together, the wealth of new discoveries paints the broadest picture yet of the people who slaved away on a well-known plantation for centuries.

Full story…

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