- New Light from Haiti's Royal Past: Recent Archaeological Excavations in the Palace of Sans-Souci, Milot
- Journal of Haitian Studies
- Center for Black Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara
- Volume 23, Number 2, Fall 2017
- pp. 5-31
- View Citation
- Additional Information
Our understanding of the nature of life in the Kingdom of Haiti, the fledgling state that emerged out of the turmoil of the Haitian Revolution, is obscured by the silences of an often problematic historical and literary archive. Since 2015, an international team of scholars from the United States and Haiti have undertaken archaeological research at the UNESCO World Heritage site of Sans-Souci. The royal palace of Sans-Souci was a key material component of royal power strategies in the Kingdom of Haiti, and it served as the center of political gravity during the reign of Henry Christophe. Despite the centrally important historical role this site has played in Haitian historical memory, negligible archaeological work has been carried out within the palace precinct. Adopting a multidimensional research strategy that includes 3-D modeling, ground-penetrating radar, and targeted excavation, the Milot Archaeological Project (MAP) is casting new light on the architectural chronology of the site, the nature of material life behind the palace walls, and both the regional and the long-distance economic networks in which the Kingdom was embedded. This article summarizes the MAP's recent findings, highlighting the great potential of archaeological research for answering important social, political, and economic questions about this important experiment in political sovereignty.