The City Beneath the City: Archaeology of New Orleans

This tour includes information about archaeological sites already investigated in Orleans Parish. Some of these sites are now destroyed. Others are no longer accessible or have considerable untapped research potential. Most are on private property and not readily accessible to the public.

As there are few protections for archaeological resources in the city, the locations of some of these projects are only approximate. We ask that you do your part to help us preserve and protect the cultural heritage of the city. Please contact us or the Louisiana Division of Archaeology if you are aware of archaeological resources that are being destroyed.

This tour was created with the participation of students from Dr. Ryan Gray's 'Archaeology of New Orleans' course at UNO and with support from students in the MSUS and Urban Studies Ph.D. programs at UNO. We will be updating and adding more sites from around the city during 2018. Please contact Dr. Gray with questions or suggestions at drgray1@uno.edu.

The St. Peter Street Cemetery

During January 2011, Dr. Shannon Dawdy of the University of Chicago and archaeologist D. Ryan Gray, then a graduate student at U of C, were contacted by a property owner concerned that development of a property on the block formerly occupied by the…

Congo Square Excavation 1977-78

During 1977 and 1978, the University of New Orleans conducted an archaeological project within what is now Armstrong Park. It focused on two areas, the Jazz Complex, a small area around what had been Perseverance Hall, and Congo Square, the commons…

Madame John's Legacy

Madame John’s Legacy at 628-632 Dumaine Street is often considered one of the best surviving examples of French Colonial architecture in the French Quarter, even though the existing structure wasn’t built until 1788.  The lot was developed by…

810 Royal Street

On October 22nd, 2014, a 200-year-old building at 810 Royal Street collapsed, presumably a victim of neglect and termite damage. The collapse sparked conversations in New Orleans about the importance of historic preservation. It also offered a rare…

St. Anthony's Garden

Saint Anthony’s Garden is located just behind the landmark St. Louis Cathedral in the heart of the French Quarter. The space is easily identifiable by the large iron fence and the statue of Jesus with his arms outstretched that casts a remarkable…

Cabildo Prison

Today the Cabildo is a facility of the Louisiana State Museum, but the courtyard of the Cabildo was part of a prison complex for nearly two hundred years, across French, Spanish, and American rule. Constructed in 1730, the prison and police station…

The Hermann-Grima House

The Hermann-Grima house at 820 St. Louis Street is a Federal-style mansion built in 1831 for Samuel Hermann, a German-born immigrant who moved to New Orleans in 1810. The lot on which it stands has a developmental history going back to at least 1728.…

The Rising Sun Hotel

Many visitors to New Orleans are familiar with the song “The House of the Rising Sun,” made popular by the English band The Animals in 1967. The song itself has roots far back in English folk balladry, long before any association with New…

St. Augustine/Tremé Plantation Site

During 1998 and 1999, the Greater New Orleans Archaeology Program, under the direction of Christopher Mathews, undertook testing and data recovery at the St. Augustine Site (16OR148), in the Tremé neighborhood of New Orleans. The site, currently…

Cypress Grove II Cemetery

The Charity Hospital’s Cypress Grove II Cemetery was used actively between the 1850s and the 1920s to bury the poor and those who succumbed to illness and disease at the hospital. Included in these burials were enslaved people, immigrants, victims…

Temple of the Innocent Blood

Today, nothing identifies the location in the Lower Ninth Ward where Mother Catherine Seal’s “Temple of the Innocent Blood” once stood.  This was true even before Hurricane Katrina devastated the area in 2005 when the nondescript block where…

Big Oak and Little Oak Islands

Big Oak Island and Little Oak Island are camps and habitation sites associated with the people of the Tchefuncte culture of the Lower Mississippi Valley, dating from as early as 800 BCE to as late as AD 200.  The sites are located in the marshes of…