Poidebard, Antoine

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Archeologist, originator of aerial photography for archeological research; b. Lyons, France, Oct. 11, 1878; d. Beirut, Lebanon, Jan. 17, 1955. He entered the Society of Jesus at d'Aix on June 2, 1897; in 1904, with several confreres, he formed the nucleus of the Armenian mission entrusted to the Jesuits by Leo XIII. During this mission he studied Turkish and Armenian. From 1912 to 1914 he studied theology at Ore Place. During World War I he was a chaplain in the armed services and undertook several missions for the French government in the Near East. In 1924 he organized the services rendered to the Armenian refugees. He was commissioned a lieutenant-colonel of the reserve air force in 1925, and on Jan. 4, 1951, the air force medal was bestowed on him for outstanding services as a missionary explorer.

As a result of his aerial research, two works of considerable interest were published: La Trace de Rome dans le désert de Syrie (Paris 1934) and Le Limes de Chalcis; organisation de la Steppe en Haute-Syrie romaine (Paris 1945), a work done in collaboration with R. Mouterde as historian and epigraphist. This study marked a considerable advance in the knowledge of the history of Upper Syria. His observations concerning water supplies were used by the Syrian department of water services for supplying water to the nomad tribes. Poidebard's interest in aerial photography led to the discovery in the Mediterranean of an ancient seaport. The results were published in Un Grand port disparu: Tyr; Recherches aériennes et sous-marines (Paris 1939). In collaboration with J. Lauffray, he published Sidon: aménagements antiques du Port de Saida; Études aériennes, au sol et sous-marines, 19461950 (Paris 1952). This new method of research inaugurated by Poidebard produced significant results. The use of aerial photography for archeological purposes is frequently employed today.

Bibliography: r. mouterde, "A. Poidebard (18781955)," Mélanges de l'Université St. Joseph 31 (195455) 317328.

[m. g. bulteau]