Following the Drinking Gourd: Considering the Celestial Landscape

Author(s): Patricia M. Samford

Year: 2018


The world of enslaved African Americans included not only the solid ground beneath their feet and other physical landmarks, but also the sky above them, replete with planets and stars.  In a world without maps, compasses or, in many instances, the ability to read directions, the enslaved were dependent upon visual cues for making their way through the landscape.  Oral traditions and historical documents reveal that planets and constellations were important guides for finding one’s way, particularly on the road to freedom.  This paper will explore an assemblage from mid-19th century Maryland and suggest that enslaved individual’s reliance on the heavens may sometimes find its way into the archaeological record.

Cite this Record

Following the Drinking Gourd: Considering the Celestial Landscape. Patricia M. Samford. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2018 ( tDAR id: 441353)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 302