Keynote speakers > Nicolas BIGOURDAN

Nicolas BIGOURDANDépartement des Recherches Archéologiques Subaquatiques et Sous-Marines (DRASSM), Marseille

Coordinator of Preventive Archaeology (diagnostics and assessments)

"Underwater Archaeology in France: history and perspectives"

Nicolas is a maritime archaeologist at the French Ministry of Culture, working for the Drassm (Département des recherches archéologiques subaquatiques et sous-marines). Nicolas studied at Sorbonne University (France) as well as at James Cook University (Australia). His career has led him to work as a maritime archaeologist in various countries (France, Australia, United Kingdom, FSM, Mauritius, South Africa, South Korea, Sri Lanka), among a diversity of public and private institutions (museum, research departments, associations, compagnies), and to be involved or to lead a wide range of projects (exhibitions, fieldworks, contracts, research, consulting, volunteering). During his 20 years of carreer so far, Nicolas has been interested in the realm of maritime archaeology in numerous research topics including watercraft rock art and depictions, slave trade, citizen science, 3D visualisation, French exploration expeditions, maritime ethno-archaeology and WWII. Now at the Drassm for over 3 years, he has worked to coordinate and strenghten the development of preventive archaeology within the department, which has allowed him to intervene at different scales and levels on all French maritime bodies.

Lecture abstract:

The contours of the terms of underwater archaeology as a discipline in France is a topic that is invariably linked to DRASSM, namely the Département des Recherches Archéologiques Subaquatiques et Sous-Marines. From the time of the pioneers at Madhia in 1907 to the present days with the recent launch of DRASSM’s largest operational ship so far the Alfred Merlin in 2021, in this young discipline, France has often played one of the first roles. This presentation will focus on the past, present and future challenges of the discipline through the boundary of the French territory and more particularly through the missions and advances of DRASSM. Specifically, the emphasis will be put on the history of DRASSM, its operationnal aspects, its technological evolutions, some iconic underwater archaeological sites, the threats to maritime heritage in France, the notion of artefacts conservation, various outreach and transmission successes, and some futurs challenges.

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