University of New Orleans archaeologist unearths relics in oldest African American neighborhood

March 07, 2001

(New Orleans)--What do you think of when you hear the word archaeology? Egyptian pyramids? Stonehenge? Indiana Jones? Absolutely. But University of New Orleans' urban archaeologists are quick to add images of New Orleans. There are no pre-Columbian temples here, no world-renowned prehistoric civilizations, but there's plenty to learn from local excavations, including the oldest African-American neighborhood in the United States, the historic Treme' district, the site of a recent dig.

Treme' is home to St. Augustine Church, and Father Jerome LeDoux, S.V.D. explains, "We could only win" by hosting the investigation, which led to the excavation of more than 2000 artifacts which help tell the history of the site from its beginnings as a brickyard in the early 1700's to modern times. What did they find?

Bricks: These were thin French colonial-style bricks, believed to be made during the site's tenure as a brickyard.

Roofing tiles: U-shaped roof tiles made of a brick-like substance. Interestingly, these are similar to the roof tiles used during the heyday of the Roman empire. This indicates that roofing technology hadn't changed much in over 1000 years.

Ceramics: Native American pottery sherds account for 10% of the artifacts recovered. These sherds were found alongside European fragments, suggesting that area Indian Nations traded regularly with the European settlers. The presence of these pots opens "exciting new questions" regarding social relations among the Native Americans, Africans, and Europeans who lived side-by-side in colonial New Orleans.

Brick Courtyards: Three of them, laid one on top of the other. The earliest dates from the 1720's. The last is a walkway used during the convent/school period between the mid-1800's to the early 20th century.

Trash Pit : A veritable treasure trove filled with broken bottles, everyday ceramics, animal bones, and even a porcelain king cake baby! This particular pit was used by the nuns and children who lived here during the site's life as a school. The convent's ceramics were relatively fashionable, a trait unexpected considering the austere reputation of the religious life.

Additional, another university archaeologist dug deep into Evergreen Plantation, one of the most intact plantations in the South, a National Historic Landmark with 37 19th-century buildings. These include 12 slave cabins dating from the 1830's and occupied until the 1940's. Evergreen still produces a substantial crop of sugar cane.

A variety of artifacts were discovered: animal bones that suggest a wide range of foods in the Black Creoles' diets; ceramic cooking, serving and dinnerware, including fine bone china; utilitarian--and non-utilitarian-personal items: combs, a thimble, perfume and patent medicine bottles, remnants of furniture, religious statues, coins, and children's slates and toys.

Both researchers are still analyzing the artifacts, including a mysterious glass tube and a "whole lot of buttons" that may have been used for playing mancala, or perhaps as jewelry or for counting.
-end-
The information above is contained in an article from the University of New Orleans upcoming Quest magazine, a university publication highlighting research, technology and scholarly activity. For a copy of the magazine, contact information of researchers or other information, e- mail Joseph White at jewhite1@uno.edu or call at 504-280-6622.

University of New Orleans

Related Ceramics Articles from Brightsurf:

FEFU scientists helped design a new type of ceramics for laser applications
Material scientists from Far Eastern Federal University (FEFU) joined an international team of researchers to develop new nanocomposite ceramics (Ho3+:Y2O3-MgO) that can be employed in high-capacity laser systems operating in the medium infrared range (IR) of 2-6 micrometers.

New light for plants
Scientists from ITMO in collaboration with their colleagues from Tomsk Polytechnic University came up with an idea to create light sources from ceramics with the addition of chrome: the light from such lamps offers not just red but also infrared (IR) light, which is expected to have a positive effect on plants' growth.

Scientists develop sorbent for purifying water from radioactive elements
Scientists from Far Eastern Federal University (FEFU) in collaboration with colleagues from the Institute of Chemistry FEB RAS come up with a smart technology for the synthesis of sorbent based on a ''tungsten bronze'' compound powder (Na2WO4) aimed to purify industrial and drinking water from hazardous radionuclides cesium (137Cs), and strontium (90Sr), as well as for effective processing of liquid radioactive waste.

Understanding ceramic materials' 'mortar' may reveal ways to improve them
New research shows that in the important ceramic material silicon carbide, carbon atoms collect at those grain boundaries when the material is exposed to radiation.

Current model for storing nuclear waste is incomplete
The materials the United States and other countries plan to use to store high level nuclear waste will likely degrade faster than anyone previously knew, because of the way those materials interact, new research shows.

FEFU scientists participate in development of ceramic materials that are IR-transparent
Scientists from Far Eastern Federal University (FEFU) teamed up with colleagues from Institute of Chemistry (FEB RAS), Institute for Single Crystals (Ukraine), and Shanghai Institute of Ceramics (Chinese Academy of Sciences) to develop Y2O3?MgO nanocomposite ceramics with uniform distribution of two phases, microhardness over 11 GPa, and average grain size of 250 nm.

Ceramic industry should use carbon reducing cold sintering process says new research
A new techno-economic analysis, by a team led by a researcher from WMG at the University of Warwick, shows that the energy intensive ceramic industry would gain both financial and environmental benefits if it moved to free the cold sintering process from languishing in labs to actual use in manufacturing everything from high tech to domestic ceramics.

New technique to improve ductility of ceramic materials for missiles, engines
Purdue University researchers have developed a new process to help overcome the brittle nature of ceramics and make it more ductile and durable.

Lasers enable engineers to weld ceramics, no furnace required
Smartphones that don't scratch or shatter. Metal-free pacemakers. Electronics for space and other harsh environments.

FEFU scientists to broaden ideas about reactive sintering of transparent ceramics
Green bodies' porous structure, i.e. mesostructure, affects dramatically the functional parameters of the optical ceramics obtained by reactive sintering.

Read More: Ceramics News and Ceramics Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.