Archaeological News

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — An archaeological project arising out of Hurricane Katrina’s floods has turned up bits of pottery fired about 1,300 years before the first French colonists slogged into south Louisiana swamps.

The project also has turned up artifacts from later Native Americans, Spanish and American fortifications, as well as a hotel and amusement park near the mouth of Bayou St. John, once an important route from Lake Pontchartrain to New Orleans.

"It’s very exciting," said state regional archaeologist Robert Mann, who was not involved in the dig but said he has looked at photographed artifacts. The pottery bits, he said, are from what is known as the Marksville period, from about A.D. 1 to A.D. 400, he said. The shards — or, as archaeologists call them, sherds — are incised with broadly spaced lines, making their age clear. Read more.

The Loyola University New Orleans Department of Languages and Cultures presents Greek scholar Yannis Lolos, Ph.D., in “Via Egnatia: A Journey Across the Lower Balkans Through Time,” a lecture about the first Roman highway built east of the Adriatic Sea, on Monday, April 16 at 8 p.m. in Nunemaker Auditorium in Monroe Hall. The event is free and open to the public.

Lolos will explore the history of the Via Egnatia, which was constructed in the second century B.C., and extended almost 685 miles long and lasted throughout many centuries. It crossed the Roman provinces of Illyria, Macedonia and Thrace, running through territory that is now part of modern Albania, the Republic of Macedonia, Greece and European Turkey. Although the largest part of the roadway has been obliterated or covered by modern roads and land development throughout the 20th century, some sections are still visible, especially near the districts of Peqin and Librazhd in Albania and the cities of Kavala and Alexandroupoli in Greece. Read more.

New Orleans — An empty lot in the 900 block of Conti St. is full of history.
 
UNO archaeologist Andrea White says she’s reading the ground there like a diary.

"We’re doing an archaeological and scientific investigation at the property to understand the people who lived here before us," she said.

White is digging for her idea of Gold at 933 Conti.  A new Irish Channel Cultural Museum will soon be built on the site.  The property owner wanted to investigate the history of the lot before construction begins.

"It’s not often archaeologists get the opportunity to dig into the French Quarter, especially not in this part, out of the footprint of the early French Quarter," said Terri Landry of the Irish Cultural Museum.

White says the house that was on the property in the 1800’s was a Creole cottage, owned by John McDonogh.  It was believed to be rented to others.
 
"We actually have a brick pier in this corner right here, so those are some of the features of this house," said White as she pointed to a brick pillar underground. Read more.

New Orleans is known by some as America’s most haunted city, but what was found in the city’s oldest neighborhood isn’t folklore or legend.

A man made a historic discovery in his historic French Quarter back yard – he unearthed 13 caskets while workers dug a spot for a pool.

The discovery has deep roots in New Orleans history.

The caskets were found in the 600 block of North Rampart Street.

The block was the site of the first graveyard in the 1700s.

The owner, Vincent Marcello, suspected he would find something, but not human remains.

“We didn’t exactly know what we were going to find,” he said. “This is the French Quarter. No telling what’s underground.”

In this case, what was underground ended up being 13 burial caskets stacked upon one another. Read more.

If you’re an archeologist, you’re going to get your hands dirty.

That didn’t bother Jennifer Williams’ third-graders, who were covered with dirt when they finished digging for artifacts recently in the courtyard of Gallier House, on Royal Street in the French Quarter.

The Newman School pupils were wrapping up a lesson in archeology and the history of New Orleans with a visit to the 1857 home of renowned architect James Gallier. After exploring the house, the 30 students fanned out across the courtyard, where roped-off areas of soil hid pottery, bones and other rubbish tossed out the nearby kitchen doors 150 years ago.

“This is a mock archeological dig, based on the findings of an investigation Tulane University did in the 1970s,” said Williams, Newman’s science teacher. “They’re not only digging in the ground — it synthesizes everything they’ve learned.” Read more.

In New Orleans we preserve our nineteenth century French Quarter architecture out of fear that we might lose or damage something so old and precious from our culture. We defend the importance of these relatively new buildings within our relatively new country against the importance of the Medieval and Renaissance structures of Europe.

And yet, we have no reason to be defensive. Discussions of context and recent history aside, the state of Louisiana holds complex man-made structures and archeological finds dating back more than 5,000 years. Read more.