… e questo buco desolatamente privo di ogni evidenza archeologica è il risultato di una giornata di duro lavoro… lunga è la strada verso Indiana Jones 😉
L’archeologia preventiva non conduce sempre a scoperte sensazionali, anzi, spesso, non conduce ad alcuna scoperta. E’, appunto, un’attività preventiva… perché prevenire è meglio che combattere.
Nella foto, il nostro collega Remo Bitelli è impegnato in un’indagine di archeologia preventiva. Siamo nella pianura ferrarese, è un controllo in corso d’opera durante la sostituzione di tratti delle tubature del gas. Nessun rinvenimento archeologico…. Remo sta rilevando la stratigrafia del terreno. Temperatura esterna: più o meno 35 gradi…
Bonjour, je suis Marie Rochette. Je suis archéologue médiéviste au Centre de recherches archéologiques Inrap de Nîmes. Ce Day of Archaeology me donne l’occasion de vous parler d’une de mes journées de fouille à l’intérieur de la Cathédrale de Nîmes.
Cette opération est considérée comme un chantier de fouille, mais son organisation est très particulière car elle dépend de l’avancée des travaux de réfection du sol de la nef de l’église.
Ainsi durant trois mois, trois collègues, Odile, Claire et Frédéric, et moi avons travaillé en co-activité avec les maçons, les électriciens, les foreurs… qui participent à ce chantier.
Le cadre de l’opération est exceptionnel ! C’est la première fois que l’on va pouvoir observer, dans quatre sondages, le sous-sol de l’édifice. L’église que l’on visite aujourd’hui a été en grande partie reconstruite à l’époque moderne.
Dès la préparation de l’opération, de nombreuses questions se posent et attisent notre curiosité :
Comment était l’église romane ? Et auparavant, y a-t-il eu une église paléochrétienne ? Le quartier était-il occupé par un bâtiment antique public comme les historiens le pensent ? Ces vestiges seront-ils accessibles au fond des sondages ?
J’ai beaucoup de chance car même si le contexte de cette opération atypique s’annonce complexe, les enjeux scientifiques sont passionnants.
Le premier jour, l’arrivée à 8h dans ce bâtiment majestueux impressionne. Notre vestiaire est installé dans le déambulatoire de l’abside. Le confessionnal et quelques tableaux religieux font le décor ! Le réfectoire se situe à l’étage dans une grande salle voûtée.
La première matinée est consacrée à la visite de l’édifice : la nef et le chœur, les chapelles, le triforium, le clocher… et la terrasse ! Aux premières heures de la journée, cette dernière offre une vue imprenable sur la ville !
Nous devons creuser les deux premiers sondages entièrement à la main. Le premier se trouve près du chœur, le second est à l’opposé. On convient de mettre toute la terre au centre de la nef, elle sera emportée dans un camion dans quelques semaines. Au bout de quelques jours, le tas est impressionnant !
Deux autres sondages, l’un au sud de la nef et l’autre au nord, sont creusés à l’aide d’une petite pelle mécanique.
À 1,30 m de profondeur sous le dallage de l’église, les vestiges apparaissent enfin : les maçonneries de fondations filantes séparant la nef et les bas-côtés. C’est bien la cathédrale romane. Un petit sondage complémentaire, dans un placard entre une chapelle et la nef, nous permet aussi d’observer une portion du mur gouttereau méridional. Bâti avec de grands blocs en remploi, il est renforcé par un contrefort.
Après quelques semaines de fouille, ces quelques points d’observation nous permettent de restituer la nef romane : elle est constituée de trois nefs. La nef centrale est plus étroite que celle actuelle. On en déduit aussi sa longueur minimale qui est au moins équivalente à l’édifice actuel.
En poussant un peu plus profondément la fouille, des couches plus anciennes sont mises en évidence. Au vu du mobilier recueilli (céramique, plaquages de marbre, moulures), elles datent de l’Antiquité et de l’Antiquité tardive. En fond de tranchée, et malgré le blindage qui a été installé pour notre sécurité et nous complique un peu la tâche, nous avons malheureusement peu d’espace pour poursuivre l’investigation.
Un gros bloc nous intrigue… Mon collègue Frédéric le dégage un peu plus. Il s’agit d’un très grand bloc de corniche antique, retourné, qui a pu appartenir à un édifice important !
Aurélien, le topographe de l’équipe, qui vient chaque semaine sur le chantier pour relever les vestiges mis au jour, pourra dans quelques jours faire une série de photographies pour rendre compte en 3D du riche décor du bloc.
Chaque soir après 17h, la cathédrale retrouve son calme. Outils rangés, lumières éteintes, nous sortons par la place du chapitre. En ouvrant la porte, le soleil nous éblouit et nous ramène aussitôt dans le mouvement de la ville !
My name is Emmanuelle Bryas, I am responsible for the management of scientific holdings at INRAP, the National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research.
Our institute brings together 1,500 people spread over the entire French territory (mainland and overseas) who daily dig, study and put in shape the fruits of their discoveries and their research.
My job is to organize the collection, management and dissemination of the documentation produced and acquired during an excavation and its study phases. To do this, I administer an online catalog, Dolia, which allows referencing of all scientific reference collections and the online consultation of certain archaeological excavation reports. 13 librarians, located throughout France, provide the search optimization of these holdings in the catalog and access to the documentation whether via paper or digital via Dolia.
The librarians also have an important role in supporting researchers in their literary search. In the same vein, we are working on the development of bibliographic records on subjects which regularly turn up in the requests of our fellow archaeologists, or which correspond to current issues. These records will allow us to develop the riches, often underestimated, of the excavation report holdings.
One of the challenges of being a librarian today in a Research Institute, is the sharing and preservation of digital material produced by researchers: text, photographs, drawings, databases, geographic information systems etc. If our reflection on the operation report is now well underway, much remains to be done further to maintain and disseminate all the fruits and results of our research.
Julien Dez is a hyperbaric* logistician at Inrap.
Since 2011, Inrap has had an underwater activities service, specifically dedicated to the implementation of underwater operations, whether at sea or in rivers. The preparation and implementation of underwater preventive archaeology operations require advanced technical skills, specific diving training, but also a good knowledge of professional diving safety rules, especially enhanced in hyperbaric environments.
As a land archaeologist first and having been practicing underwater archaeology for many years, I joined the underwater activities service at Inrap in 2012 to specifically take care of logistical issues in hyperbaric environments.
My role is pivotal in the way that I am involved in all the technical elements that an underwater archaeological operation requires : identifying the needs of each operation, both from a human and technical point of view, accordingly preparing the technical equipment for each member of the team and conveying the transport truck onto the site of the operation, which can be all over the French territory. The context of these interventions (ocean, river, lake …) determines the type and number of boats needed for the operation. Searching for suitable water transportation resources is also part of my job.
After launching an operation, I join the teams on the field to effectively participate in the archaeological excavation: diving reconnaissances, excavations, surveys, sample gatherings…
At the end of the operation, all the equipment used is thoroughly cleaned, checked, revised if necessary and then stored at the operational base in anticipation of the next intervention.
My working time is thus divided between my office, the operational base that stores the diving and technical equipment and finally the field, drawing a rather unusual but exciting job profile.
*hyperbaric: pertaining to or utilizing gaseous pressure greater than normal.
As editor of the intranet, her missions are to host the site (create and update content, create collaborative spaces and form contributors). She designed the newsletter, and rewrites the texts for future dissemination in the newsletter.
As administrator of the image library, Valerie provides general maintenance of the site in relation to Inrap’s web agency, the DDCC and the Direction of information systems (DSI). This means that she manages the access rights for contribution, trains and supports contributors and manages the network and access rights.
Also, she oversees the drafting and revision of contributors’ legends, and ensures the overall consistency of the fund (iconographic quality of documents and indexing).
Her weekly tasks are to meet the iconographic needs of persons outside of the institute (publishers, museums, the media) and of Inrap agents, manage copyrights and foreign photographers, implement the agreement made with the photographic agency of the RMN (Réunion des Musées Nationaux) for commercial uses of documents, ensure the payment of pictures (together with indexing and meeting the quality criteria stipulated by the Convention, in the data-base of the RMN Photo Agency). Finally, Valerie contributes to improving the Inrap platform: creation of new tools, participation in the platform redesign.
Sophie Lamargue is responsible for the professional management of jobs and skills at Inrap
Sophie’s job consists first in acutely knowing all the existing jobs and skills present at Inrap and making projections on the short and medium term needs, taking into account issues specific to the establishment.
These issues are:
– enabling a better visibility of internal and external mobility areas to provide a greater visibility to agents on possible career developments (individual assistance);
– identifying strategic jobs for which the institution must ensure the sustainability of knowledge and skills, to anticipate progressive retirement departures over the next 10 to 20 years;
– developing gateways externally and internally, particularly between these two streams of jobs within the scope of professional incapity issues, and the need for reclassification, which arise in particular for operational personnel, linked to the difficulty of the profession.
To do this, the work currently underway is the development of a job repository for Inrap and gradually creating a directory of skills linked to this repository.
My name is Gerard Bataille and I am responsible for scientific partnerships (and scientific activity) at the scientific and technical direction of Inrap, at the Paris headquarters. I am first and foremost an archaeologist, specialized in Celtic archaeology that took a job in research administration in order to put my skills and commitment in the service of others.
As part of my activities, I deal with linking relationships between Inrap and various French research institutions, such as the CNRS, universities and numerous laboratories. The aim of these relationships is to develop scientific partnerships for future research development projects between Inrap colleagues and researchers from other institutions.
The main objectives of this mission are to set up for Inrap agents, a supportive work environment for the development of their research as well as facilitate relations they may have with colleagues from other institutions in order to promote multi-institutional projects.
For this, I am frequently led to travel through France in order to meet our partners and establish with them the basis of our relations. Therefore, I spend much of my working life in public transportation and meetings, and the other half at the office preparing draft conventions in collaboration with other departments and colleagues with other skill sets than mine such as the legal department, the direction of cultural development and communication, human resources, etc…
Another part of my missions is to participate in the management, organization and monitoring of my colleagues’ scientific activity. In this framework, in collaboration with others from the scientific and technical direction, we regularly meet with our colleagues to advise on the installation and implementation of their research projects, set up and ensure the means of award procedures (financial and human), administer and follow research budgets and the conduct of these programs …
On a more personal level, in my free time, I try to continue to participate in and develop projects, in order to keep a scientific activity and keep, in the eyes of my colleagues, legitimacy as an archaeologist.
Responsible for scientific partnerships
Scientific and Technical Direction, Inrap
Scientific affiliation: UMR 6298 ArTeHiS (CNRS-Université de Bourgogne)
My name is Hervé Guy and I am an AST with Inrap (Institut national de recherches archéologiques préventives – French national institute for preventive archaeological research). Of course, that doesn’t mean anything to someone who doesn’t work with my research institute. And yet, I am always introduced as: “Hervé Guy, AST, Marseille”. I then see the confusion in the eyes of my new acquaintances, asking themselves questions like : “AST, what does that mean?”; “Archéologue Sans Terrain?” (“Archaeologist with no fieldwork ?”); “Archéologue Sous Tranquillisants?” (“Archaeologist on tranquilizers ?”). No, it means : Adjoint Scientifique et Technique (Scientific and Technical Adjunct). Many of my colleagues think that the “A” signifies Assistant, showing just how mysterious this acronym remains. In fact, I am the scientific and technical adjunct to the inter-regional director, in this case, of the Mediterranean inter-region.
I am based in the Provence region, in Marseille to be precise, where I direct the archaeological research center that oversees the Bouches-du-Rhône and Alpes-Maritimes departments. I have many duties, and like a Swiss army knife, depending on the time of day, I am a manager, a scientist (mostly in the evenings), a technicial-logistics coordinator, a salesperson, a confidant… Most of my work consists of organizing diagnostic operations and excavations. I thus visit many field sites, sometimes leading me to dubious places. I also constitute teams (80 people), negotiate excavations, manage the careers of the agents who work for me, and respond to more or less urgent requests from my administration.
So, as you can see, I don’t get bored and there are not enough hours in the day to do all I have to do.
Being a family man, I try to reconcile my professional and private lives. I therefore reserve my morning until 8:15 to take my youngest child to school. Afterward, I don’t know if I will get home before he goes to bed.
So, my typical day begins at 8:15 am. By 8:30, the phone begins to ring. It doesn’t stop until 8:00 pm. I spend 3 or 4 hours a day with the telephone glued to my ear. My colleagues think this is funny and joke that my mobile phone is like an appendage, a prosthesis. The telephone is the emblem of the “AST”, the symbol of his or her function. I carefully avoid reading all of the epidemiological studies on the dangers of mobile phones. If they really do exist, it is too late, I’ve been doing this job for twelve years. I would certainly be an interesting guinea pig for mobile phone providers. I am living proof that telephones don’t kill: probably because I alternate between my left and right ears.
I must say that I dread full days of meetings when I can’t answer my phone or read my emails : I end up with dozens of messages to answer. These are people that I must call or write back, and some of them are not pleasant… I’m thinking here of developers who see archaeologists as building preventers, and think that they are detrimental to economic progress, of which they themselves are the mighty heralds. But let’s forget the grumpy ones. Many developers also tell me how much they appreciate our admirable profession.
My job requires that I be available most of the time, not only to developers, but also to the members of the teams that I lead. My team is amazing. Most of its members are very efficient and motivated, and when I become a bit overwhelmed, someone will spontaneously offer their help (which I don’t refuse). Of course, as in any human organization, there are some rebellious, grouchy or dissatisfied ones. But generally, I must say that the reigning atmosphere is positive in my research center in Marseille, rather studious, but full of good will.
I like this profession, even if it is sometimes tiring (physically) and challenging (psychologically). I like this profession as an AST because we play an essential role in preventive archaeology in France. And what could be more satisfying than seeing all of your efforts rewarded by amazing discoveries?