an association of researchers serving the cathedral


Historians, archaeologists, curators, anthropologists, sociologists, theologians, physicists, chemists, computer scientists, paleoclimatologists and musicologists … 250 researchers have federated to share their knowledge of the monument.

By Nathaniel Herzberg Posted today at 17h41

Time to Reading 3 min.

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In scientists, spontaneous generation does not have a good reputation. And, to tell the truth, this association is not born of anything: it was created three days after the terrible fire which ravaged the cathedral. Yet the speed of its organization and its progress is, if not a miracle, at least incongruity. The ashes still smoke when three researchers decide to launch the Scientists at the service of the restoration of Notre-Dame: Arnaud Ybert is a senior lecturer in art history at the Pierre-Jakez-Hélias university center; Maxime L'Héritier is a building archaeologist and metallographer in Paris-VIII; as for Olivier de Châlus, the Arcadis design office, which employs him as a construction engineer, granted him a lay-off to write a thesis on the history of construction techniques at the medieval construction site of Notre-Dame.

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Their love for the cathedral goes beyond the strict professional framework. Olivier de Châlus, for example, led the guide service there for four years, after seven years of simple volunteering. "I was there when the fire started, I had to start answering the first technical questions. Meanwhile, we were exchanging all three. In three days, the statutes of the association have been deposited. I became the spokesperson. "

From the outset, the object is twofold: federate scientists to bring knowledge back to the field, studies, maps, records accumulated for centuries. But also to offer a contact for the civil society. "We can not blame politicians and journalists for not working with the right data if we do not make them available to them",argues Olivier de Châlus. Thus, while in the early hours, the news sites, looped over by social networks, mourn the disappearance of the "Three-hundred-year-old forest" of Our Lady, they rectify the shooting: no, a study of 1995 showed that the oaks used were less than one hundred years old. "What's the point?" explains the scientist.

Large body of information

In a week, they are 70 members, after a month, 200. Now, 250 researchers are on the register. Historians, art historians and archaeologists, of course, but also curators and archivists, anthropologists, sociologists and theologians, computer scientists, physicists, chemists, paleoclimatologists and musicologists. French, Europeans everywhere, but also Americans, North and South, Japanese, Australians … "The community, usually fragmented, is structured around this global emotion," comments Olivier de Châlus.


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