Marseille has a special place and a unique history in France. A city of exchanges and a veritable laboratory throughout its history, the city of Marseille regularly reveals remarkable new vestiges which raise many historical or contemporary questions. The question of the occupation of space, urban planning and that of excavations in the southern metropolis are at the heart of the latest issue of Archeology Files « The history of Marseille revealed by archeologyWhich proposes to take stock of the latest discoveries and advances in research.
A laboratory for archeology
Marc Bouiron, scientific advisor to the issue and researcher at INRAP, introduces this dossier with an article providing an overview of the city's rich history. The contribution Jean-Paul Jacob, researcher at the CNRS and former regional curator of Archeology in Provence-Alpes-Côte d´Azur and director of INRAP reviews the recent history of Marseille archeology. In addition to the precocity of the excavations, it shows that Marseille was a laboratory which gave birth to preventive archeology but which also raises the questions of the conservation of remains and its difficulties. It should be noted that the heritage is really what we hope to be preserved from our fathers, as illustrated by the relative lack of interest aroused by the destruction of the remains of the aqueduct which carried water from La Huveaune. Ingrid Sénapart takes stock of the Neolithic occupation of the site. Note also the presence of an article on "The protohistoric sites of Marseille and their conservation issues".
The Greek history of Marseille is an essential passage. The foundation is the subject of two contributions, one offers an archaeological assessment of the question and the other analyzes the mythological account. Henry Tréziny discusses the morphology of the city and its main monuments. The latest archaeological excavations have given interesting conclusions and presented in this issue in particular those of the quarry on Boulevard de la Corderie but also those concerning the ancient port complex. Jean Guyon finally deals with the question of the Christianization of Marseille through its religious buildings and the multiplication of these from the 4th century AD.
Of all time
The dossier continues the story by offering a synthetic article by Marc Bouiron on the medieval history of the city. The city experienced a decline from the second half of the 7th century and then a new boom from the 11th century. Two poles stand out: the episcopal town on the Saint-Jean promontory and the count town on the Butte des Carmes. Françoise Paone discusses the establishment of an urban development between its two poles. This desired and supervised by the authorities, however, left rather thin traces and the medieval habitat is still quite "difficult to define".
Articles are also devoted to the modern and contemporary period. Julien Puget deals with the expansion of the city decided by Louis XIV but led by municipal authorities and individuals. This site is in a way a laboratory and inaugurates a new urban development policy. Buildings were rediscovered and benefited from an item such as the Jeu de Paume room on rue Thubaneau or the Royal Powder and Saltpeter Manufactory. Port activity in the 19th century and the waste from cafes, hotels and restaurants on the eve of the Belle Époque are the subject of a contribution in this issue which concludes with an article on the Museum of History in Marseille.
This dossier is a successful synthesis of current events and the challenges of archaeological research in Marseille. The rich iconography, always of very good quality, embellishes and enriches the reading. The end of the Dossiers d'Archéologie is, as usual, devoted to various news. An article deals with the pseudo-theory of ancient astronauts behind the great archaeological monuments in vogue on social networks. Whale remains have been found in Roman fisheries and raise the question of the presence of these species in the Mediterranean Sea in Roman times. Finally, the exhibition at the Cité de la Préhistoire in Orgnac (Ardèche) devoted to Neolithic societies facing climate change is presented. A good synthetic and accessible number of the Dossiers d'Archéologie.
The history of Marseille revealed by archeology. Archeology files n ° 389. On newsstands and by subscription.