Archaeological dig in Quarter yields pieces of city's past - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports, Social

Archaeological dig in Quarter yields pieces of city's past

Building collapsed in October 2014. (FOX 8 Photo) Building collapsed in October 2014. (FOX 8 Photo)
NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) -

When a building collapsed on Royal Street last fall, a part of French Quarter history disappeared. But something even older was uncovered.

Students with the Department of Anthropology at the University of New Orleans are digging at the site between Dumaine and St. Ann streets.

A building stood there for more than 200 years before crumbling last October, and the property owners invited the students to excavate the grounds before any future development happens.

“We have people coming by asking us what we've found, if we've found anything good - as if that's an objective thing,” said student Andrew Smith. “For me personally, touching dirt that hasn't been touched in 200 years, that's awesome. That's really cool for me.”

Maps dating back to 1722 show buildings on the lot.

“So far we've been looking at the locations of outbuildings that were behind the 1801 building, and we're finding features associated with those old buildings - brick surfaces and brick shafts that are probably privy shafts,” said Dr. Ryan Gray of UNO. “The backs of lots are always where lots of interesting things happen from an archeological perspective. We're eventually going to get below those to the Colonial-era levels, but the fact that they're there tells us those earlier levels are intact.”

Everything collected will be taken back to the lab at UNO to be studied and recorded.

“We'll wash it, we'll analyze it,” Gray said. “And it's really in the context of everything that's found together - that's what really tells the complete story of the site.”

The students expect to be excavating for the next three weeks and hope to uncover even more of New Orleans' past.

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