This is not the first time that Manuel Moliner visites the École Biblique! He has been a regular visitor to the school and has established close relations with the Dominican community for many years. During his last visit, he was accompanied by his son, with whom he embarked on the crazy adventure of studying and cataloguing the metals fragments of Qumran.
This year, he returns alone, which is an opportunity to take stock of his various projects!
Can you introduce yourself in a few words ?
Originally from Toulon, I have been a municipal archaeologist for the City of Marseille since 1985. I currently run the Archaeology Unit, which also manages the archaeological repository where all the excavations in the city of Marseille are kept and studied.
What exactly does your job involve ?
I carried out rescue excavations before major urban works, mainly in the Greco-Roman city of Massalia-Massilia, the “Panier district” and its surroundings, where the world of the dead developed in Antiquity. In addition to my responsibility for the archaeological service, I also devote myself to studies, symposiums, publications and the promotion of discoveries to the general public through conferences or temporary or permanent museographic programmes.
Why Marseille ?
Initially, following my studies at the University of Provence, I was successful in a national competition, and then discovered – during my investigations in the underground – the archaeological wealth of a city open to the Mediterranean that offers few archaeological remains to the public.
What brings you to the EBAF ?
Today I am writing the manuscript on the metal furniture of Qumran under the friendly guidance of Brother Jean-Baptiste Humbert, o.p., following the continuation of my son Theo’s university master’s degree in 2017, which dealt with the conservation of this type of archaeological material. He then took over the work of Alain Chambon, which had been interrupted for several years.
What is your link with the school ?
Apart from this particularly strong scientific circumstance, an unfailing friendship with several Dominican friars following visits to the Ebaf thanks to my wife, Laurence, an archaeologist and conference guide in Israel, among other places. But above all, because she was a former scholarship holder here, she made me discover and appreciate this venerable and indispensable institution for French archaeology in the Near East.
What are the next projects for you ? for Marseille ?
Of course, to complete the manuscript for the metals fragments of Qumran, and why not tackle other archaeological issues at the school?
For Marseille, time is short, but the museum and digital enhancement, such as the monographic publication of the discoveries in rue Malaval, which yielded a venerated tomb delivering holy oil, are my priority objective. I also want to perpetuate and strengthen the archaeological service of the oldest city in France.
Before leaving, what image do you have of your stay here ?
I only stayed a short time, and that short time flew by very quickly ! But I would say the convent garden in the early spring, far from the arid aspects of the summer, and above all the beautiful encounters and the deep as well as the simple discussions within the school and the convent!