Glossaire

A

Actiparc

In the Spring of 2001, archaeologists from INRAP and the City of Arras began a 20-month project to excavate the site of this future business park, a zone covering over 300 hectares. Aware that they were excavating an area heavily marked by fortifications during the Great War (German frontlines), the scientific team decided to take these traces into equal consideration with all other forms of archaeological evidence. Over 6000 structures dating from the First World War were identified. Many of these were shell craters or backfilled trenches of little archaeological interest. However, some of the structures thus identified did provide invaluable information on the day-to-day life of soldiers (e.g. the handicraft workshop found in the German prisoners’ trench) and the way they dealt with their dead.

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B

Bucy-le-Long
On 8th February 1915, while inspecting a recently-completed communication trench (Laufgraben) on the front line, Captain E. Pehlemann, originally hailing from Spandau, came across a bronze torc. He ordered further inspections, which revealed the presence of numerous vases and skeletons. He entrusted the task of excavating this Gaulish cemetery to a young humanities student serving as a volunteer under his command, Hans Niggemann. Between 8th February and 8th April a total of 32 Celtic-era tombs were carefully, methodically excavated. During a period of leave away from the frontline, Private Niggemann produced a minutely detailed account of his excavation and ensured that the objects unearthed were correctly catalogued. The accuracy of his identification and dating of the artefacts is remarkable for this period. Captain Pehlemann also produced a report, which he passed on to his superiors in late March. Less than two weeks later all of the artefacts and accompanying documentation were transferred to the Royal Museum in Berlin. After the Armistice this collection was all but forgotten, then divided into several lots as a precautionary measure during the Second World War. Part of the collection was sent to Moscow (returned to East Berlin in the 1950s), with the rest relocated to the Museum für Ur-und Frühgeschicht, where it remains to this day.  The rest of this ancient cemetery, which originally contained around 350 tombs, was excavated in a series of digs between 1971 and 1994, following an incident causing extensive destruction in 1970.

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C

Châtelet-sur-Retourne
An archaeological dig was conducted in 2009 in the hamlet known as ‘Au-dessus du Clos’, on the outskirts of Châtelet-sur-Retourne in the south-west of the Ardennes département, 28 km north-east of Reims. This operation, conducted by a team from INRAP led by Yoann Rabasté, covered an area of some 14,439 m² earmarked for a new housing development. The excavations revealed a series of constructions dating from the period 1914-1918, corresponding to a German military air base established on the outskirts of the village, which served as a base for the rear lines. Surviving evidence of this camp included traces (foundation trenches) of large hangar-type structures. These structures were accompanied by a blockhaus bunker and an ammunition dump which yielded a considerable quantity of military artefacts, including Germane airplane parts, along with various animal remains indicating the presence of a butcher shop on the site.

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D

DRASSM 
The Department for sub-aquatic and submarine archaeological research (DRASSM) is responsible for the administrative and scientific management of the sub-aquatic and submarine archaeological heritage of all waters falling under French jurisdiction, from the Atlantic to the Pacific and the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean, a total of almost 11 million km². Qualified to conduct all archaeological studies requiring the use of divers, the DRASSM is responsible for implementing the Heritage Code in all matters concerning maritime cultural assets. This latter term covers all items of prehistoric, archaeological, historical or artistic interest located in the maritime public domain. The DRASSM is based at the port facilities of L’Estaque, in Marseille.

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I

Inrap
The National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research (INRAP) is a French Public Research Institution established by the Law of 17th January 2001 on preventive archaeology. INRAP is thus the successor to the National Association for Archaeological Excavations (AFAN) a public NPO. INRAP is placed under the joint control of the ministries for Culture and Research.

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J

Joseph Déchelette
French Archaeologist, born 8th January 1862 in Roanne (Loire), killed in action on 4th October 1914 at Vingré (now Nouvron-Vingré, in the Aisne département). A curator at the Museum of Fine Art and Archaeology in Roanne, Déchelette was the author of a 6-volume archaeological manual which was long considered a key reference work: The Manual of Prehistoric, Celtic and Gallo-Roman Archaeology, published between 1908 and 1914. By comparing the results of excavations conducted at Bibracte on Mont Beuvray, Manching in Bavaria, Stradonice in Bohemia and Velem-Zsent-Vid in Hungary, he was the first to reveal a widespread cultural continuity north of the Alps in the late Iron Age. Aged 52 at the outbreak of war and thus exempt from military service, he signed up voluntarily and was appointed captain in the reserves. He was called up to the front near the River Aisne along with the 298th Roanne infantry regiment in late September 1914. On 4th October 1914 he was killed in action during an offensive at Vingré.

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S

Semi-Dreadnought
A term used to refer to the first battleships produced in the early years of the twentieth century with secondary artillery capacities reduced in favour of very large calibre guns, nine inches (230mm) and above. The Dreadnought class of battleships was so named after the HMS Dreadnought, launched in Portsmouth in 1906 and armed with ten twelve-inch (305mm) guns.

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T

Third Battle of Artois
On 25th September 1915, the French forces gathered to the north of Arras attempted once again to break through the German lines. The main thrust of this offensive was focused on the section of the line running between the hilltop at Vimy and the village of Thélus. The success of the operation depended upon capturing this high ground, which stands overlooking the Lens coal field. The 50th and 126th Regiments of the 47th and 48th Brigades and the 24th Infantry Division were assigned to the sector at Thélus, but their numerous attempts to capture the village were to end in failure. Only the first two enemy lines were taken, and these only partially. The human cost of this battle, which lasted through the 26th and 27th September 1915, amounted to 139 killed, 370 wounded and 79 missing for the 50th Regiment and 130 killed, 510 wounded and 135 missing for the 126th. 

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