A team of archaeologists from the University of Maryland has unearthed a set of objects believed to be religious symbols used by African-Americans. According to The New York Times, the combination of circular-shaped objects is believed to be a representation of Ezekiel’s Wheel.
“No one has found this combination before. It may give us a snapshot of the blending of religious symbols of a tenant farmer after 1865,” says University of Maryland archaeologist Mark P. Leone, who led the team. “Christianity had not erased traditional African spirit practices; it had merged with them to form a potent blend that still thrives today.”
The artifacts were uncovered at the site of a plantation near Easton, Md. One of the objects discovered was the cosmogram, a circle with an X inside. It was a powerful West Central African spiritual symbol and Christian preachers are thought to have given a new meaning to the cosmogram as Ezekiel’s blazing chariot wheel.
“We call this the ’emergent wheel’ because it shows the growing power of Christian imagery alongside the African,” Leone says. “It shows us a moment in time when these symbols literally lived side-by-side.”
Carlene Phoenix, a descendent of the Wye House Plantation enslaved community, told Phys.org that the wheel retains its Christian symbolism and power, even today.
“For me the wheel is all about the presence of God. He is omnipotent and is anywhere and everywhere at all times,” Phoenix says. “No matter what our ancestors endured during their captivity, God was there. For me the wheel was a reminder to them about the presence of God and the reassurance that no matter what we endure that He will never leave us nor forsake us.”
Nytimescom. (2016). Nytimescom. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/08/science/ezekiels-wheel-ties-african-spiritual-traditions-to-christianity.html?_r=0
Jessica, E. (2016). Archaeologyorg. http://www.archaeology.org/news/5000-161108-maryland-religious-symbols
Physorg. (2016). Physorg. http://phys.org/news/2016-11-archaeologists-ezekiel-wheel-african-americans.html