under the direction of Dominique Garcia, Flammarion editions, 320 pages, € 29
Dominique Garcia assures him, the publication was planned for a long time. But it must be recognized that the work coordinated by the president of the National Institute of Preventive Archeology (Inrap) arrives at peak in a context of political campaign. Here, no pointless controversy. The history of France and the French, from the Neanderthals to the soldiers of the Second World War, is told through the traces left, which archaeologists bring to light.
We learn, for example, that the Carolingian peasants took great care in the funeral rites of their disabled relatives. That a Muslim trading post lasted for more than a century in Fraxinetum, in the Gulf of Saint-Tropez. That before sheltering the deposits of the coal mines, Farébersviller (Moselle) also sheltered deposits of jewelry, parts and small instruments of the Bronze Age. So many places, stories, past lives that have built the country.
In 20 years and 50,000 excavated sites, preventive archeology sheds light on the history of France but above all the history of human links. The last part of the book, more “boutique”, reveals that the archaeologist is not always an Indiana Jones in a hat dusting old figurines. We meet geometers, ethnologists or even botanists, to connect people and their landscapes.
Richly illustrated, without being too large a “beautiful book”, the book will delight curious and heritage enthusiasts. And if “By facing the past on the occasion of future developments”, as Dominique Garcia writes, did archeology shed light on the present?