Albert Hesse

A pioneer of archaeometry in France

After the death of Albert Hesse (1938-2022), we wanted to pay tribute to him by listing the sites on which he was able to work as an archaeometer. Albert Hesse is a pioneer of archaeometry in France. His subjects of study very quickly focused on urban archeology and geophysics. In particular, he was at the origin of the development of continuous electrical methods.

The maps presented (button below) show the places that we have been able to identify in his publications and in unpublished reports, currently in the library of the METIS laboratory of the University of Sorbonne-Paris VI.

When the publications are online, a hyperlink allows them to be consulted.


From the presentation given at ICAP meeting in Kiel (28-31/03/2023) :

Albert was born in Casablanca and lived in Morocco during his childhood and adolescence. After his baccalaureate graduation (1956) he moved to his homeland to follow an engineering cursus at the ‘Arts et Métiers’ higher education school from which he graduated in 1960. By the end of this cursus, he met Professor André Leroi-Gourhan who guided him to archaeology. Following the teachings of Professor Louis Cagniard, he chose near surface geophysics applied to archaeological prospection and was recruited by CNRS in October 1960. From October 1963 to March1965 he did his military service in the Navy and followed this up as reserves officer in marine mines detection. He became ‘Docteur-Ingénieur’ in 1964 and was the founder of the discipline of archaeological geophysics in France. He continued with this subject throughout his career in the CNRS, including at the ‘Centre de Recherche Géophysique’ in Garchy (Nièvre) where he was director of the laboratory from 1982 to 1988. He retired by the end of 1999.

His commitment in scientific organization was substantial and constant :
 Supervised ten PhD thesis and taught archaeological prospection methods at University Paris 1 from 1980 to 2000.
 Organised student exchanges between Garchy and the University of Bradford (UK) from 1977 to 1988.
 Founding member (1976), general secretary (1976-1980) and President(1980-1987) of the GMPCA (initially ’Groupe des Méthodes Physiques et Chimiques de l’Archéologie’ and later ‘Groupe des Méthodes Pluri-disciplinaires Contribuant à l’Archéologie’).
 Member of the Standing Committee of the Archaeometry International Symposium from 1980 to 1999.
 Member and Secretary (1997) of the Pre and Proto-History section of the ‘Comité Technique des Travaux Historiques et Scientifiques’ (CTHS).
 Associate Editor of Archaeometry (1993-1998) and of Archaeological Prospection (1994-1999).
 Member of the editorial board of the French journals ‘Paléorient’, ‘Revue d’Archéométrie’ and ‘Histoire et Mesure’.
 Member of the scientific council of Mont Beuvray from 1985 to 1990.

ISAP founding member (2003) and then honorary member (2004).

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