Milot Archaeological Project



State formation has been a central focus archaeological research for over a century. Whereas scholars once emphasized the functional role of political institutions, archaeologists now focus on the strategies deployed by elites to control social interactions, providing new perspectives on the practice of power in the past. This intellectual turn has encouraged a shift in focus from macropolitical structure, to the micropolitics of power, one in which spatial archaeologies of power are increasingly visible. The Milot Archaeological Project (MAP) is examining an example of state formation from the early modern Atlantic World: the short-lived Kingdom of Haiti (1811-20), which emerged in the years after the Haitian Revolution. The MAP uses architectural analysis to answer two essential question: (1) did royal architecture in Haiti materialize a sharp break with, or rather did it draw symbolically from earlier sites of power in the region, and (2) was royal architecture primarily intended to communicate public political statements, or was it implicated in broader attempts to formalized and routinize everyday social life in the kingdom?

In partnership with the Institut de Sauvegarde du Patrimoine National (ISPAN), the Milot Archaeological Project (MAP) is conducing research in Haiti’s Parc National Historique du Nord. In its preliminary phase of research, the project is focusing attention on the UNESCO World Heritage site Sans-Souci, a central place the Kingdom of Haiti. Over the long-term, the MAP will use documentary and archaeological evidence to explore the relationship between architecture and power in the Kingdom of Haiti at multiple scales of analysis: (1) the royal palace Sans-Souci, (2) the neighboring town of Milot and, (3) various palaces, fortresses, and plantation sites distributed across its hinterland.