The Somme valley and
Caesar's camp at l'Etoile.
Introduction
Why this web site?
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La vallée de la Somme et le camp de César de l'Etoile. This web site is intended to be as clear an introduction to aerial archaeology as possible. We will present its principles, possibilities, and objectives, what is needed to do it, and issues that it raises.
Aerial archaeological methods and techniques are presented very simply, citing examples of results obtained over the past forty years, mostly in northern France, by one of the discipline's founders, Roger Agache. This site discusses very varied agricultural landscapes — hedged farmland, plains with large-scale agricultural operations,
gravel soil — thus presenting a representative sample of the landscapes one finds in both France and in a good number of its neighbours. In order to see, you must learn to see. Thus, this site is primarily a collection of images of the many ways that the past has left its trace, of the memory of the land observed from low altitude. You must first learn to decipher these "land hieroglyphics", which at first will seem puzzling and strange.

The sites only appear to the watchful observer who manages to focus on certain unexpected, fleeting traces, which are generally at odds with the familiar countryside.


At Molliens-au-Bois (Somme), different drying rates for crops reveal protohistoric structures below, as well as underground anomalies.   A large indigenous farm at Bettencourt-Rivière (Somme), towards the Vallée d'Airaines.
At Molliens-au-Bois (Somme), different drying rates for crops reveal protohistoric structures below, as well as underground anomalies.   A large indigenous farm at Bettencourt-Rivière (Somme), towards the Vallée d'Airaines.

The site will present some basic notions, so that you can learn to detect, interpret and date these archaeological structures, based on results obtained by test excavations as well as data collected from historical accounts.
The site also contains warnings against false and simplistic "interpretive keys": there is nothing esoteric about aerial archaeology. It is not a new science, just a new way of looking at the past.


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