Signed photograph of Félicien de Saulcy.

© MAN/Valorie Gô

Félicien de Saulcy was the only president of the Commission de Topographie des Gaules, from 1858 to 1879.

A military man

Félicien de Saulcy, sometimes known as Félix, served in the military and had trained at the École Polytechnique. A pupil at the École d'application de l'artillerie in Metz, he published his first archaeological work in the early 1830s and was particularly interested in numismatics. In 1841, he became curator of the musée de l’Artillerie in Paris. He travelled around the Mediterranean and Near East and was fascinated by ancient ruins.

President and archaeologist

In the 1850s, thanks to his second wife, a lady-in-waiting to the empress Eugénie, Saulcy became close to Napoleon III. In 1858, he was named president of the Commission de Topographie des Gaules. He took part in location and excavation activities including the exploration of burial mounds at Méloisey and Naix and the excavation of those at the Chaumes de Cussy, Chaumes d’Auvenay and They. He made several visits to Gergovie and Alise-Sainte-Reine.

A specialist in numismatics

While he is most well-known for his archaeological work in the Bible Lands, Saulcy was above all an emblematic figure in French numismatics. Ruined by the fall of the Second Empire, in 1872, he sold his collection of Gallic coins, one of the most important collections of its time, to the Cabinet des médailles.