An underwater preventive archaeology operation is set to take place on the island of Réunion .  It is the first of its kind in France since the preventive archaeology law was voted in 2001.

Last modified
19 January 2017

This diagnostic operation, undertaken in advance of the construction of a new coastal road, will be conducted by the Institut National de Recherches Archéologiques Préventives (Inrap), under the direction of the Département des Recherches Archéologiques Subaquatiques et Sous-Marines (drassm) of the Ministry of Culture and Communication, and in close collaboration with the regional Prefect and the Direction of Cultural Affairs of the Indian Ocean (dac-oi). 

Underwater reconnaissance 

After the terrestrial test pit realized in January 2012 (the first preventive archaeology operation in the history of Réunion island) by Inrap along the coast, at the La Possession rest area in the northwestern part of the island, the underwater operation will begin at the end of September. 

As prescribed by the state (drassm), geophysical data were recorded in the sea, in the public maritime domain, along the new coastal road between Saint-Denis and La Possession. These recordings were made using a side scan sonar and a magnetometer. The recorded data were then analysed during the first semester of 2012. On the sea bottom, 85 anomalies were confirmed by the processing of these data, and 36 of these were selected for verification. 

​Inrap will now conduct a reconnaissance of the most convincing anomalies. The goal will be to determine their nature, their chronology, and the state of preservation of possible archaeological remains. This new research should be finished by October 31. A team of ten archaeologists embarking on the ship of French southern and Antarctic lands, La Curieuse, hopes to discover remains that can contribute new information to the maritime history of the island of La Réunion. 

Once this diagnostic operation is finished, a report will be submitted in the spring of 2013 to DRASSM and DAC-OI. This underwater intervention is the first one conducted by Inrap. It is realized by its new subaquatic and underwater division, created in July 2011. 
Developer : Région La Réunion
Curation : DRASSM, DAC OI
Site director : Philippe Pelgas, Inrap
Contact(s) :

Joëlle Sawané
Culturel development and communication 
06 07 90 66 26
joelle.sawane [at]

Mahaut Tyrrell
Media communication 
Inrap, media relations and partnerships 
01 40 08 80 2
mahaut.tyrrell [at]