Archaeology and the city of today
Archaeological exploratory trench

Detail of a stratigraphic section

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Preservation of monuments Historical accounts Architectes des Bâtiments de France
Services régionaux de líArchéologie (Regional Archaeological Departments)
New projects and the preservation of an elevated or exposed archaeological heritage
New projects and the presentation of a buried archaeological heritage


Since archaeological techniques evolve and historical questions become more precise as time goes by, often due to multidisciplinary approaches, we have to preserve as well as possible, the potential heritage of the city for future researchers. That is, we must preserve as much data as possible for our successors, either in the form of the actual archaeological artefacts, preserved and restored or not yet studied because they have not been extricated (thus they form archaeological reserves) or in the form of archives created through excavations and archaeological studies.

 The activities of archaeology management departments (Services Régionaux de líArchaéologie) are a permanent compromise between :

  • On the one hand, authorising an expensive archaeological excavation which involves systematic destruction of the heritage but frees the land to be developed from all archaeological constraints.
  •  On the other hand, having changes made to city planning projects even if it entails changing the financial aspect and indeed the nature of the project, or making implementation uncertain or impossible, in order to conserve all or part of the archaeological vestiges.

Every decision is preceded by an archaeological evaluation : exploratory trenches define the nature of the remains and the measures that can be proposed to preserve them. No matter which solution is chosen : an archaeological excavation or the preservation of the remains, it has a price. The developer is responsible for this cost and it is often the cost that decides the choice.

 The archaeological excavation should only be started if unavoidable city planning constraints exist. The irreversible nature of the excavation means that optimum conditions must exist : deadlines, considerable financial means to finance the excavation and the scientific study of the results. If these conditions cannot be met, the project must be rejected.

 Fortunately, it is sometimes possible to find technical solutions or modifications between these extremes. The choices are specific to each operation, for they depend on the quality of the substratum where the project is to be carried out, the exact nature of the project and the heritage to be protected. 

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