The Archaeological Project at 810 Royal Street
Early in 2015, Ryan Gray of the Department of Anthropology at the University of New Orleans was invited by the property owners at 810 Royal Street to examine its archaeological potential. Even in a historic neighborhood like the French Quarter, there are no local laws mandating that the archaeological potential of a site be addressed before it is developed, and federal laws protecting cultural heritage do not apply. Furthermore, because much of the oldest portion of the French Quarter has been developed for the better part of two centuries, it can be difficult to access archaeological deposits in the area, as they are covered over by pavements and buildings. While the collapse in 2014 of the building that had stood at 808-810 Royal Street was unfortunate, it also thus provided a rare opportunity. Archaeologists were given unfettered access to investigate the 810 Royal lot in detail.
Dr. Gray, his students, and volunteers have conducted two seasons of excavations at the site. The historic building that had occupied the lot was constructed in the early 1800s, but the most unique aspect of the archaeological history the lot appears to be deposits from the early Colonial era. Thousands of artifacts have been recovered so far, and the archaeology lab at UNO is engaged in an ongoing effort to analyze that material and present it to the public.