The first winter photograph of a Gallo-Roman villa, taken on bare ground after deep plowing at Chirmont (Somme). R. Agache, 1962.

The emergence of a discipline

At this conference, the department of the Somme was presented as France's leading department of aerial archaeology. For one thing, in 1962 Roger Agache had published the first regional summary in this domain, with 93 illustrations. This booklet was widely distributed, both in France and abroad. In addition, the results from the Somme were particularly spectacular (see the catalogue of the exhibition by Raymond Chevallier in 1963). The success of these events and the instruction offered at the École Pratique des Hautes Etudes led to the appearance of a second generation of low-altitude prospectors in the years that followed. This group included, among others, Michel Boureux, François Vasselle, Jacques Dassié, and Colonel Louis Monguilan.

Currently, there are some eighty archaeologists, including many amateurs, who regularly practice aerial archaeology throughout France. They are supervised by the Ministry of Culture (the regional archaeology departments, or DRAC), and receive financial support from the State, local authorities, and associations. We cannot list them all here, but one of them, Gérard Chouquer, has revitalized the methodology, particular in the study of landscapes. Remarkable photographs have been published, among others, by Bernard Lambot, Maurice Marsac, Jean-Paul Petit, Henri Delétang, Jean Desloges, Annie Etienne, Patrick Péridy, Alain Lelong, Jacques Dubois, Jean Holmgren, Claude Leymarios, Loïc Langouët, Michel Loiseau, Jean-Paul Delor, Jacques Meissonnier, Christian Richard, Patrick Joy, Jean Roiseux, François Besse, Françoise Claustre et Jean Vaquer…
The most astonishing thing is that the supposedly unpromising region of Brittany has yielded excellent results, remarkably published by Gilles Leroux, Maurice Gautier, Jean-Claude Meuret et Patrick Naas (1999).

Spots of humidity on bare ground reveal protohistoric enclosures at Drucat (Somme). R. Agache, 1961.