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Skilled craft

Her first archaeological digs in 1987 and 1988 were on the metallurgical workshops of Porte de Rebout at the oppidum of Bibracte, and from 1989 at the late Bronze Age site of Frattesina which produced numerous traces of a metalworker’s workshop. The attraction of this complex material led to a rapid technological case study (V-1993), willingly following the methodological lessons of André Leroi-Gourhan. This material science approach was associated soon after with training and practical work at the laboratory of the Louvre in Paris.

After her doctorate (I-2007) and the early years of establishing a teaching programme – until then totally absent from the University of Lille – she gave priority to the creation of a laboratory setup (LEACA) in order to train students and organise research programmes in this field.

Metallurgical craftwork remains at the heart of these research themes, with an expansion of certain topics over the years and a wider geographical scope encompassing north-west and north-alpine Europe after her appointment as lecturer at Lille. Faithful to the methods acquired during her academic work, she continues to favour a technological approach by implementing detailed visual examination and laboratory techniques. The results thus obtained are envisaged as a first step, a means to approach innovative research questions about societies, their modes of operation and their practices. Metal is a complex material with specific properties in relation to chemistry and material science. However, the interaction between people and material is not just about technology, but must include social, cultural and economic dimensions that go far beyond the material itself. The challenge is difficult based only on archaeological data, above all because our contemporary view of the value we attach to metal can lead to a distortion (or even a completely erroneous viewpoint) compared to the reality of the past. This concept will be at the centre of programmes and topics in the years to come, including the study of specific bodies of data (such as metal hoards) and a multidisciplinary approach using innovative technologies (such as 3D reconstructions).


History and epistemology of Archaeology

To establish oneself as a ‘Protohistorienne’ (and to occupy the first chair at the University of Lille) it is necessarily to adopt an epistemological position that demands that one understands the workings of the intellectual history of archaeology since the nineteenth century. What is ‘Protohistory’? Why does it exist in France when the rest of Europe has not deemed it necessary to introduce this term? Beyond the word itself, there is here recorded a long-running European story of its acceptance or refusal, its legitimacy or marginalistion in academic institutions, with consequences sometimes still noticeable today.

This research topic, giving historical context to disciplinary practice, has occupied her since her years in Italy (V-1999) and her research into the relationship between archaeology and national identity (IV-2001). In recent years, she has focused her work more specifically on the definition of the concept of the ‘Bronze Age’ and its acceptance, along with the idea of Protohistory, which she associates with the earliest agricultural Europe, from the Neolithic until the end of the Iron Age (I-2011 & 2015; III-2011; V-2009a). This research into the foundations of the archaeology of ancient oral societies of Europe is accompanied by reflection and activism to assert the operative value of archaeology in its plurality and its legitimacy in the teaching of history.


First navigation and boundaries in Europe

The direction of the European project ‘BOAT 1550 BC’ was an excellent opportunity to bring together some of her reflections developed over a number of years regarding exchange, human mobility during the European Bronze Age, their motivations (including metallurgy) and the notion of frontiers. The project ‘The idea of frontiers in a Europe without writing’ (2007–2009), led by the Maison Européenne des Sciences de l’Homme et de la société (MESHS) in Lille was an initial ‘think tank’ that led to the organisation of the annual conference of the Institut Universitaire de France on the theme of frontiers (2009) from a multidisciplinary perspective [lien web IUF].

With the BOAT 1550 BC project and the international collaborations which have taken place, a new perception of the sea in the Transmanche zone as a meeting space between people has taken on a new dimension both methodologically and in terms of results. The various activities of the project (exhibition, conferences, public lectures) which continue today have allowed the questions of space and the movement of people and goods to be highlighted amongst both the scientific community and the general public.

This theme will be given priority in the future, with new field excavations but also the development of new programmes on current data relating to the earliest maritime navigation in Europe – ship remains and rock carvings – by way of international collaborations and by making use of new technologies. These new programmes, whose research protocols (including the creation of software) are in place, can be easily applied to these imperfect data for 3D reconstructions and interactive visual navigation. The development of these new technologies as applied to the issues of borders and exchange will also include questions on cargoes and trade goods, with work on the spatial analysis of this data.