Fonds Jean-Claude Gardin
The Fonds Jean-Claude Gardin (1948-1978), preserved in Nanterre at the Service des Archives of the Maison Archéologie & Ethnologie, René-Ginouvès (now Maison des Sciences de l'Homme Mondes - MSHM), is part of the documents stored by the research team “Archéologie de l’Asie centrale, peuplement, milieux et techniques (UMR 7041 ArScAn)”. As a result of a research agreement between the Service des Archives, the CNR, and the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, a group of documents was selected and digitised. They consist of the earliest administrative documents, which refer to the establishment in 1957, under the auspices of the French CNRS, of the Centre Mécanographique de Documentation Archéologique, soon after renamed Centre d’Analyse Documentaire pour l’Archéologie (CADA).
The agenda and the minutes of the Steering Committee meetings of the Centre provide a tool for extracting information that greatly contribute to reconstructing a detailed picture of Jean-Claude Gardin’s pioneering impulse in promoting new research paths, establishing and leading ad hoc laboratories and organising international scientific events. They also contribute to highlighting the French cultural and academic milieu in the mid Fifties, thanks to Gardin’s close cooperation with renowned scholars such as Henri Seyrig, Fernand Braudel, Jean Leclant, André Leroi-Gourhan and Claude Lévi-Strauss, to name just a few.
The Centre Mécanographique de Documentation Archéologique stemmed from a CNRS research mission in 1955 to the Institut Français d’Archéologie de Beyrouth, which consisted of three members: Jacques Christophe, Jean Deshayes and Jean-Claude Gardin. The mission’s mandate was to deploy a public archive of punched cards describing different kinds of archaeological objects, making documentary research more operational and speeding up the storage and retrieval of data, in order to facilitate the sorting and searching tasks that are at the core of any archaeological classification.
In 1958 the Centre was entitled Centre d’Analyse Documentaire pour l’Archéologie (CADA), thus giving more emphasis to the analytical methods put forward as opposed to the techniques used. The Centre’s headquarters moved from Paris to Marseille in 1964, following a de-centralising policy of the French CNRS that was soon advocated by Gardin. Being located in a strategic position on the Mediterranean Sea, Marseille and its surrounding areas had the advantage of being home to several laboratories specialized in the automatic processing of scientific information.
Jean-Claude Gardin headed the CADA until 1971, when he devoted himself to the launch of the Centre de Recherches Archéologiques in Valbonne (CRA), which was established in 1974. The CADA became a research unit of the Centre, entitled Analyse Documentaire et Calcul en Archéologie and headed by Mario Borillo, until then deputy director of CADA.