The Archaeology of a Colonial-Era New Orleans Prison

The excavations at the Cabildo represented a rare opportunity to recover archaeological evidence of Colonial era governance, particularly in the realm of punishment. Modern conceptions of the prison as a place of confinement and correction were still developing in this era, and serious offenses were likely to be considered a direct affront to the sovereign, and thus to be punished corporally. The evidence from the Cabildo suggests that, even at a comparatively early date, prison labor was being exploited in manufacturing, a pattern that would be developed through the nineteenth century and into the modern era. It shows the poor sanitation within the prison, but it also demonstrates the ways in which those confined maintained some degree of autonomy within those conditions.



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