When in France do as the Spanish

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Last week we were treated to the story of how Spain thought so little of the Roman antiquities that lay beneath the surface of its sunny soil that they went ahead and paved over one of the most significant archeological finds ever uncovered in Iberia. Well, not to be outdone, the French are following a parallel course in Paris. From the Associated Press we learn

Deep beneath pavement pounded by tourists on Paris' Left Bank lies an ancient path — a 2,000—year—old Roman road recently excavated during construction work.

Remnants of private houses rigged with baths and ingeniously heated floors were among the findings, now on view in a stunning dig. Over the next few weeks, however, archaeologists will rip up the ruins to make way for a research center.

The archeologists gradually remove every layer of ruins until they reach the geological stratum — the original ground — and eventually draw a chronological diagram.

"Excavating is destroying. We dig into historic layer after historic layer," said Didier Busson, scientific supervisor of the archaeological site.

So they'll destroy the site rather than just concretize it. So much the better. That way they'll be sure nobody will ever again find it. After all it's only been there since at least the time of the first Roman emperor, Augustus:

Archaeologists said it was the first such site discovered in the city — known as Lutetia in pre—Roman and Roman Gaul — from the reign of Roman emperor Augustus (63 B.C.—14 A.D.).

But it won't be too long before it's all gone:

Busson's INRAP (the French acronym for National Institute of Preventive Archaeological Research) team started digging at the beginning of March and must be finished by June 30, when the construction work on a new research building starts again.

C'est la 'preventive' research.

Recall the opening words of Julius Caesar's Gallic Wars, 'Omnia Gallia in tres partes divisa est' — 'All Gaul (France — approximately) is divided into three parts.' Perhaps it should have stayed that way. Then, also perhaps, more of Caesar's legacy would remain intact.

Dennis Sevakis   5 07 06

Last week we were treated to the story of how Spain thought so little of the Roman antiquities that lay beneath the surface of its sunny soil that they went ahead and paved over one of the most significant archeological finds ever uncovered in Iberia. Well, not to be outdone, the French are following a parallel course in Paris. From the Associated Press we learn

Deep beneath pavement pounded by tourists on Paris' Left Bank lies an ancient path — a 2,000—year—old Roman road recently excavated during construction work.

Remnants of private houses rigged with baths and ingeniously heated floors were among the findings, now on view in a stunning dig. Over the next few weeks, however, archaeologists will rip up the ruins to make way for a research center.

The archeologists gradually remove every layer of ruins until they reach the geological stratum — the original ground — and eventually draw a chronological diagram.

"Excavating is destroying. We dig into historic layer after historic layer," said Didier Busson, scientific supervisor of the archaeological site.

So they'll destroy the site rather than just concretize it. So much the better. That way they'll be sure nobody will ever again find it. After all it's only been there since at least the time of the first Roman emperor, Augustus:

Archaeologists said it was the first such site discovered in the city — known as Lutetia in pre—Roman and Roman Gaul — from the reign of Roman emperor Augustus (63 B.C.—14 A.D.).

But it won't be too long before it's all gone:

Busson's INRAP (the French acronym for National Institute of Preventive Archaeological Research) team started digging at the beginning of March and must be finished by June 30, when the construction work on a new research building starts again.

C'est la 'preventive' research.

Recall the opening words of Julius Caesar's Gallic Wars, 'Omnia Gallia in tres partes divisa est' — 'All Gaul (France — approximately) is divided into three parts.' Perhaps it should have stayed that way. Then, also perhaps, more of Caesar's legacy would remain intact.

Dennis Sevakis   5 07 06