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Preventive Archaeology in France and the contribution of extensive geophysics: from ARP® to web-GIS

Abstract : It is of common practice to say that land development is a significant threat to our cultural heritage. Even if this heritage is protected thanks to different laws in constant evolution, but also framed at a European level by various conventions, a mass destruction of this heritage was and is still ongoing , more specifically for the part which is buried below the Earth surface. Only recently, thousands of sites have been systematically excavated before their complete destructions and this inflation of scientific data derived from their study (compared to the more traditional excavations done by researchers) has completely changed our view of the past. If we focus only for France, the total area impacted by development works is of the order of 60 000ha per year. This represents 165 ha per day or 7ha by hour! Among these 7 ha/hour, only about 1,5 ha is checked by archaeologists (evaluation trenches with mechanical stripping). Even if the ratio of evaluated areas seems low (circa 15%), over one year (2012), this represents an area of 15000ha and indeed a unique opportunity for archaeologists. These figures are now lowering due to the impact of the economical situation. It is important to note that in France the cost of archaeological evaluation/excavation is supported at 100% by the developer. Rescue Archaeology has grown up in Europe due to the awareness of the value of buried heritage first by some amateurs, but also by the public and specifically into the historical districts of the towns. In France and in other countries like England, Ireland, Italy, scandals due to the voluntary destruction of archaeological remains is at the origin of the development of specific regulations and entities in Archaeology. Generally, this period is coincident with first, the post-reconstructions of big town centers throughout Europe, and then with the development of big infrastructures like motorways (France, Hungry, Ireland) and railways lines during the economical expansion (TGV in France). It is significant to note that the term 'Archéologie de sauvetage' (Salvage Archaeology) first given to this type of Archaeology.
Keywords : ARP web-GIS
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Michel Dabas. Preventive Archaeology in France and the contribution of extensive geophysics: from ARP® to web-GIS. Federica Boschi. Looking to the Future,Caring for the Past Preventive Archaeology in Theory and Practice, Bononia University Press, pp.59-69, 2016, 978-88-6923-173-5. ⟨halshs-01516135⟩

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