Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Search for New Acadia Continues: the Winter Expedition of 2014-2015

New Acadia Project students and volunteers.

Students and volunteers with the University of Louisiana at Lafayette continued fieldwork during the last week of 2014 to discover the lost settlement of New Acadia and unmarked burials of Acadians who arrived in south Louisiana in 1765. 

Remote sensing at an abandoned cemetery near Bayou Teche.

While next week is the final week of the Winter Expedition of 2014-2015, this is a long-term project that will require years of systematic fieldwork and research.

The cemetery is located in a wooded area of the Teche Ridge.

The cemetery is surrounded by ancient Live Oaks.

This year, 2015, is the 250th anniversary of the arrival of Acadian families led by Joseph Beausoleil Broussard. The archaeological discovery and investigation of the New Acadia settlement of 1765 will greatly advance existing knowledge of Acadian history and the origins of Cajun culture. 

Students and volunteers inspect a sugarcane field for evidence of the 1765 settlement.

The New Acadia Project holds the potential to commemorate the forgotten home sites and unmarked graves of the founders of what would one day be called Acadiana. As a result, it will also contribute to the development of Louisiana's cultural economy. 

The field crew searches for evidence of the New Acadia settlement.

If nothing is done or research is delayed any longer, these unique places and irreplaceable sources of information may be lost forever. The alternatives to seeking greater knowledge are clear: ignorance, forgetfulness, and eventual obliteration.

The field crew looks for evidence of New Acadia by shovel testing.

The soil is sifted in looking for artifacts dating from the 1760s.

More information and updates on the New Acadia Project can be found on Facebook and at the New Acadia Project web site at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

Most shovel tests yield no evidence or more recent artifacts, like bottle glass or rusted nails.
Each shovel test is around 30 cm (12 inches) diameter.
The soils and stratigraphy of each shovel test are carefully recorded.

The New Acadia Project is a public initiative that depends on the generous support of interested individuals, organizations, and foundations in order to accomplish the objectives of archaeological and historical research.

The field crew enjoys hot chocolate after a cold day in the field.

As of October 2014, more than $174,000 has been raised by the New Acadia Project Steering Committee and $138,848 of this has been awarded to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in support of research.

A NAP Steering Committee meeting at Vermilionville.

Major contributors include Iberia Parish and the Iberia Parish Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Coypu Foundation, and the McIlhenny Family Foundation. The greatest number of donations has come from individuals, small businesses, and private organizations, such as the Lafayette Genealogical Society. 

A view of the Bayou Teche, last seen 250 years ago by Joseph Beausoleil Broussard.

Funding is needed for equipment, such as the magnetometer and gradiometer, supplies, transportation, and to support research assistants and personnel. Anyone interested in supporting the New Acadia Project can donate through the Acadian Heritage and Culture Foundation at the Acadian Museum in Erath or the New Acadia Project Fund at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Foundation.