The Saint Louis Cathedral is an iconic fixture of the New Orleans landscape. The present structure is at least the third building to serve as a Catholic church here since the French occupied the territory in 1718. In 2024, three hundred years after the first permanent structure was erected on the site, the building needed serious renovations. The Archdiocese contacted the University of New Orleans’s (UNO) Department of Anthropology during test excavations along the Cathedral’s foundation meant to inform those plans.

Dr. Ryan Gray from UNO led a team of students and volunteers to expose the centuries of history accumulated in layers across the site. The team found Indigenous, French, Spanish, and English pottery, beads and elements from religious medals, straight pins that fastened muslin cloth to the windows to allow light into the building before glass was available in the colony, stained glass fragments, and other artifacts from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

At the time of this writing, UNO is still processing artifacts from the series of excavations. Please look for updates from our future website ( expected to go live in Summer of 2024.