History of the GNOAP

The Greater New Orleans Archaeology Program grew out of a planning project in 1995-1996 initiated by the State of Louisiana’s Division of Archaeology in cooperation with the College of Urban and Public Affairs (CUPA) at the University of New Orleans. Shannon Lee Dawdy served as the first director and assessed the feasibility of establishing an archaeology program in the New Orleans area. Though funding was cited as problematic, it was found that such a program is feasible. Thus, the CUPA agreed to continue housing the program, giving it a base from which to work (Dawdy 1996). The program adopted the name the Greater New Orleans Archaeology Program in September 1996 and has operated with the support of grants and contracts ever since. Dawdy left the program in 1998 and was replaced by Dr. Chris Matthews who directed the GNOAP from September 1998 to December 1999.

To sustain the program in its first two years, the GNOAP obtained grants and contracts totaling over $100,000 to undertake a variety of projects. These projects included several excavations, numerous public talks, and the development of school and public outreach programs. This support allowed the program to provide technical assistance to a great number of New Orleans-area residents. High profile research conducted under the auspices of the program included testing at the National Historic Landmark site Madame John’s Legacy (Dawdy 1998), research at the Maginnis Cotton Mill /Duplessis Plantation (Dawdy and Ibáñez 1997), and excavations at the St. Augustine site in the Tremé neighborhood of New Orleans.

In January 2000, the program was placed under the direction of Dr. Scott E. Simmons who conducted excavations at properties like Evergreen Plantation (16SJB63) on the west bank of the Mississippi River in St. John the Baptist Parish. The program struggled for funding in 2001 when Simmons left. It continued on at a reduced level without a director, mainly with the assistance of UNO archaeologist Juana Ibáñez and the previous directors. After the 2005 hurricanes, UNO underwent restructuring due to a depleted student population. As a result, CUPA was reorganized into the School of Urban Planning and Regional Studies (SUPRS). The GNOAP lay dormant until funding from the National Park Service’s Historic Preservation Fund Hurricane Recovery Grant was made available. Louisiana Division of Archaeology and UNO’s Department of Anthropology, School of Urban Planning and Regional Studies entered into an agreement to sponsor a regional archaeology program for the 2008-2009 calendar years. Additional funding was provided to the program in 2010-2011 to create a GIS archaeological sensitivity model for the New Orleans area through grant funds from U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Today the GNOAP is housed in the University of New Orleans’ Department of Anthropology. The program is made possible  through a variety of grants and contracts. To establish name recognition and continuity in the community, the Greater New Orleans Archaeology Program (GNOAP) title was retained from previous incarnations of the program. Additionally, the logo, a truelle de lys, created by Zoe Burkholder was revived as a recognizable symbol associated with the GNOAP. This logo was used on the program website, t-shirts, and literature.

Reference Cited

Shannon Lee Dawdy, Final Report for New Orleans Archaeology Planning Project (Unpublished report, Department of Anthropology, College of Urban and Public Affairs, the University of New Orleans, New Orleans, 1996).

Shannon Lee Dawdy, Madame John’s Legacy (16OR51) Revisited: A Closer Look at the Archaeology of Colonial New Orleans (Greater New Orleans Archaeology Program, College of Urban and Public Affairs, the University of New Orleans, New Orleans, 1998).

Shannon Lee Dawdy and Juana L.C. Ibáñez, Beneath the Surface of New Orleans’ Warehouse District: Archaeological Investigations at the Maginnis Cotton Mill Site (16OR144) (Prepared for Cotton Mill Limited Partnership and Historic Restoration Inc., Greater New Orleans Archaeology Program, College of Urban and Public Affairs, the University of New Orleans, 1997).