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A public outreach program
Historic walking tour: marker no. 5 at the foot of the basilica.
© UASD / S. Louit.
Saint-Denis and its 87,000 inhabitants-28% of who have nationalities other than French-is a town of contrasts, a multicultural suburban town partway between memory and modernity. In a place where new construction and urban development have erased the shape of the ancient town, the inhabitants often lack points of reference-either spatial or temporal.
Archaeology is a concrete discipline, perfectly suited for establishing direct contact with the general public. Since 1988, archaeology in Saint-Denis has forged a solid link between the territory and its inhabitants by developing a public outreach program entitled "Archaeology, Territory and Citizenship". The goal of the program is to transform "archaeological material" into tools for understanding the territory as well as into products created on this same territory. The former are used as mediation support, the latter are designed to develop economic activity.
Tools for understanding a territory
The first approach mentioned above aims at encouraging all those who live and work in Saint-Denis-both children and adults-to discover their urban roots, and to appropriate a territory for themselves and to find reference points to be able to read the town
. To do this, the Archaeological Service
makes use of its research focused on training about the territory based on its archaeological network. The Service uses an inexhaustible fund of scientific material to create teaching workshops
, and to invent tools for reading the urban space. These include a Historic Walking Tour from the Basilica to the Stade de France, the Changeable Model of the Territory, and temporary reference points such as the Path Back into Time from the Site of the 2,000 Rods.
Open house to mark the end of excavations on the necropolis in 1990. © UASD / E. Jacquot.
Cover of the Archaeological Service's cultural action brochure.
© UASD / Agence Dixit
Promoting heritage development
These actions, which have received the support of a number of institutions, often have an urban, experimental dimension, taking place in housing projects, outlying neighborhoods and in the public space in the town center. They include "open-house excavations", participation in "European Heritage Days" and the "artisans' village", and each is designed to be a rendez-vous with the local population
The Saint-Denis Archaeological Service is part of a heritage development project that plays a role in local development.
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