The Historical Atlas of Saint-Denis is the introductory volume in the scientific publication of the urban excavations. It examines the formation, or morphogenesis of the town, from its origins up to the eighteenth century, using a topographic synthesis based on the comparison of archival sources with the initial results of the archaeological research.
It offers the reader a representative sampling of the diversity of documentary materials about the site, including written sources (lives of the saints, miracles, charters, account books, reports of visits, chronicles, history books, and so on), iconographic documents such as antique maps and drawings, and archaeological data both new and old.
The Atlas is organized along the lines of a progression through space and time. Taking as its starting point the first basilica, around which developed the royal abbey and then the medieval town, it takes the reader up to the eve of the town industrialization. The five sections are devoted to, in order, the basilica, the cemetery and the monumental complex, the monastic buildings, the town, and the territory.