Uncovering the Germanic Past: Merovingian Archaeology in France, 1830-1914
Uncovering the Germanic Past brings to light an unexpected side-effect of France's nineteenth-century Industrial Revolution. While laying tracks for new rail lines, quarrying for stone, and expanding lands under cultivation, French labourers uncovered bones and artefacts from long-forgotten cemeteries. Although their original owners were unknown, research by a growing number of amateur archaeologists of the bourgeois class determined that these were the graves of Germanic 'warriors', and their work, presented in provincial learned societies across France, documented evidence for significant numbers of Franks, Burgundians, and Visigoths in late Roman Gaul. They thus challenged prevailing views in France of the population's exclusively Gallic ancestry, contradicting the influential writings of Parisian historians like Augustin Thierry and Numa-Denis Fustel de Coulanges. Although some scholars drew on this material evidence to refine their understanding of the early ancestors of the French, most ignored, at their peril, inconvenient finds that challenged the centrality of the ancient Gauls as the forebears of France. Crossing the boundaries of the fields of medieval archaeology and history, nineteenth-century French history, and the history of science, Effros suggests how the slow progress and professionalization of Merovingian (or early medieval) archaeology, a sub-discipline in the larger field of national archaeology in France, was in part a consequence of the undesirable evidence it brought to light.
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abbé Cochet Alexandre Bertrand ancient antiquaires de Normandie antiquarian societies antiquaries antiquités nationales antiquities archae archaeological archéologique du Midi Archives Arcisse de Caumont artefacts barbare Barriere-Flavy beneﬁt Bibliotheque Boulanger Bulletin Calvados Catalogue cemeteries century Charles Roach Smith cimetiere collection Comité des travaux Commission des antiquités Cote-d’Or Croix curators d’archéologie d’histoire département documents early medieval Effros excavations Exposition universelle ﬁeld Figure ﬁnds ﬁrst fouilles francaise France Frankish French Gallo-Roman Gaul Germanic Gran-Aymerich graves identiﬁed inﬂuence inﬂuential l’art l’Ecole l’Ouest learned societies Letter dated Lorraine Magasin pittoresque Mainz Mémoires Merovingian Merovingian-period mérovingienne Meurthe-et-Moselle monuments monuments historiques Moreau Musée d’archéologie nationale Musée des antiquités museum Napoleon III national archaeology nineteenth Nineteenth-Century ofﬁcials Paris provincial recherche regional Reproduced by permission Revue Roman Saint-Germain-en-Laye Salomon Reinach scholars scientiﬁc scientiﬁques Seine-Maritime sépultures siecle signiﬁcant Société archéologique Société d’archéologie Société des antiquaires Thierry tion travaux historiques Vacquer Vienne Visigothic