Tunnel warfare in North Mali?
News and reports dealing with the discovery of numerous caves containing weapons and ammunitions in the Ametettaï valley, in the Adrar of Ifoghas seem to indicate that terrorist groups fighting against African and French armies are using tunnels and underground shelters. As a confirmation, a picture published in Le Monde and the corresponding video by France 24, show a half-buried room dug into a soft rock, maybe clay, with a narrow passage to force the invaders to crawl in order to progress inside the connected tunnel.
We have seen in our book, La Guerre souterraine, that Islamic fighters had already used caves and tunnels to fight successfully against Soviet and then Occidental forces in Afghanistan or the Algerian army in the 90’s. As a consequence, it’s not a surprise that fighters from previous Algerian GIA and GSPC, or trained in the Afghan mountains had been getting into a tunnel warfare.
Jérôme and Laurent Triolet, March 6, 2013
(updated April 2, 2013)
New topic in the Photo Library: Cliff refuges (“Cluzeaux”) of Spain
In the Spanish Levant, around Bocairent, between Valencia and Alicante, there is a group of exceptional cliff refuges (“Cluzeaux” in French). The major site, “Les Covetes dels Moros”, is a community cliff refuge, grouping 49 cavities dug on five levels in the cliff, and connected by 47 narrow passages. Each chamber has its own window in the cliff wall. In the same district, there are six others cliff refuges of this kind, for the most part having only some rooms, but two of them grouping more than ten windows in the cliff. All these cavities seem to be part of the same historical group, but dating is difficult. The cliff provided a natural barrier, inside the “Covetes” the narrow passages were effective obstacles and the fortification wall of “Bancal Redo” was a good protection. With grain silos and room for animals villagers were also able to hide and to protect their means of subsistence. So, “Les Covetes dels Moros” and “Bancal Redo” are community cliff refuges. The other cliff cavities are located at strategic points guarded access roads and defile. They were probably used as look out posts. There are other cliff refuges in Andalusia (southern Spain).
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Download a publication about the topic: Les cluzeaux de falaise du Levant espagnol
TV report about Art in quarries in the television programme Vues sur Loire aired on France 3 (French TV), Saturday, February 16, Sunday, February 17 and Tuesday February 19
Saturday, February 16, at 16:15 p.m. on France 3 Centre
Sunday, February 17, at 11:30 a.m. on France 3 Pays-de-Loire
Tuesday February 19, at 10:10 a.m. on France 3 Paris-Ile-de-France, Centre, Bretagne, Pays-de-Loire, Haute-Normandie and Basse-Normandie
Just published : Cappadocia - Schede dei siti sotterranei / Records of the underground sites (bilingual Italian / English)
A new collaboration with our Italian colleagues, under the direction of Roberto Bixio who has conducted numerous explorations in Turkey. This volume presents previously unpublished data (including inter alia plans, photographs, catalogues, sources, geological analyses, water/drainage, travellers’ reports) gathered from recent major archaeological investigations into a number of important underground structures from the six districts that together form the territory historically known as ‘Cappadocia’ (eastern-central Turkey) – Aksaray, Kayseri, Kirsehir, Nevsehir, Nigde and Yozgat. Besides synthetic data (name, location, type, planimetrics), each of the 40 records detailed in this work includes a route-finder, historical and urban-setting notes, descriptions of the underground site and related plan based on instrumental surveys or sketches, bibliography.
British Archaeological Reports (BAR) S2413, edited by Roberto Bixio, published by Archaeopress, Oxford, 2012, maps, plans, schemas and photos, 278 p. ISBN 9781407310114
Lecture on the occasion of the « Salons de Choiseul », Lycée Choiseul and Médiathèque François Mitterrand, Tours (France), November 29, 2012 and December 1, 2012
Thursday November 29, 2012, Laurent will give a lecture on "Underground refuges and war tunnels (France, Vietnam, and Afghanistan)".
Saturday December, 1, 2012, Laurent will present a Chinese movie that shows the digging of war tunnels.
New topic in the Photo Library : Cave dwellings in Cappadocia
Cappadocia lies in the heart of Anatolian Plateau in Turkey. Whereas the main part of the high plateau is covered by steppe, some little valleys offer an extremely varied landscape : rose cliffs, rocky peaks and fairy chimneys. The authors of these spectacular landforms are the volcanoes with the help of water, frost and wind. These natural elements have carved a particular volcanic stone called tuff. This tuff with different colors, both resistant and soft, is everywhere in Cappadocia. During the 4th century hermits have dug their cells, later monks have established their monasteries and the Byzantines have cut wonderful rock churches. In every place, inhabitants have dug houses, dovecotes or sheepfolds. Until the middle of the 20th century the population still lived in cave-dwellings.
In Cappadocia, natural elements and human activities have built a stunning rock scenery.
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Presentation at the meeting of the International Union of Speleology Commission on Artificial Cavities, Torino (Italia) May 18, 19 and 20, 2012
We are members of “Commission on Artificial Cavities” of the International Union of Speleology. The Associazione Gruppi Speleologici Piemontesi and the Società Speleologica Italiana organize a meeting of the International Union of Speleology Commission on Artificial Cavities, in Torino (Italia) May 18, 19 and 20, 2012. This international workshop is about classification of the typologies of artificial cavities in the world.
Saturday May 19, 2012, Laurent will give a lecture on "Underground refuges and war tunnels (France, Cappadocia, Afghanistan, Vietnam and Lebanon)".
We have been studying underground cavities dug by man and especially underground refuges for 25 years. Thanks to this research we have betterunderstood the function and the organization of underground refuges in France and some other countries. Recently we have completed a synthetic work about the use of underground cavities during war, this study led to the book “La guerre souterraine” (underground warfare), published in 2011 by Perrin publishing house (Paris). Through this work, we are able to present two categories of underground cavities dug by man during war : underground refuges and war tunnels.
For the two categories, we will present several examples of cavities dug in different countries and used at different times. We will begin our communication with the small underground refuges dug in North West and South West of France (12th - 16th century). We will then present the village underground refuges that exist in Cappadocia (Turkey) (8th - 15th century), in North France (15th - 18th century) and in Vietnam (20th century). Next, we will also provide an overview of a contemporary variant of underground refuges : the high mountain underground complexes in Afghanistan (20th – 21st century). Last, we will present war tunnels used in Vietnam (20th century) and Lebanon (21st century).
Our purpose is to show that despite historical and geographic differences, all the cavities included in each of these categories present an important architectural unity. This common architecture is related to an identical function. We will also point out the existing differences between underground refuges and war tunnels.
Venue : Parco della Tesoriera, Corso Francia 192, Torino (Italia) at Associazione Gruppi Speleologici Piemontesi (AGSP). The Workshop will be open to public. For more information please contact : Mario Parise (firstname.lastname@example.org), Fabrizio Milla (email@example.com).
Friday May 18, 2012
Arrival of participants
17.00: Meeting of UIS Commission on Artificial Cavities (participation open)
19.00 In memory of Luigi Barcellari
Saturday May 19, 2012
Introduction to the workshop (M. Parise)
Authorities welcome : Associazione Gruppi Speleologici Piemontesi, Società Speleologica Italiana, Union Internationale De Speleologie
The typological tree of artificial cavities : a contribution by the SSI Commission (C. Galeazzi)
Hydraulic works: the Map of the Ancient Underground Aqueducts (M. Parise)
Rupestrian settlements. An overview on some areas of the Mediterranean Basin (A. De Pascale)
The troglodytic castles of the Northern Vosges (France) (L. Stevens)
Underground refuges and war tunnels (L. Triolet)
Typologies of artificial caves: examples from Turkey (H. Egilmez)
A new type of rocky work: the Apiaries (R. Bixio)
Underground with Subterranea Britannica - site types and interests (M. Dixon)
Erdställe", artificial caves in Austria and Germany (D. Ahlborn)
The Ancien Mines & Quarries Census Project : a systematical approach to a missed heritage (C. Chiappino)
The Italian Cadastre of Artificial Cavities (M. Meneghini)
Artificial Caves as a possible danger : sinkholes and other effects at the surface (M. Parise)
Artificial and natural cavities, the two underground worlds. Which is the largest ? ... (G. Badino)
17.00 : round table discussion
A system of classification for artificial cavities: updating of the Italian classification and outcomes from the workshop
18.00-18.30 - poster session
20.00 : Social dinner in a typical restaurant (not included in the workshop fee)
Sunday May 20, 2012
9.00-12.00 : Visit to the Museum Pietro Micca and the 1706 Torino siege. From the Museum we will have access to the underground gallery, a military structure 14-km long. www.museopietromicca.it
Meeting on the occasion of the publication of the book “La guerre souterraine” (underground warfare) at “La Boîte à Livres” (Tours, France) Monday, September 26, 2011 at 06 : 30 pm
Laurent will present our new book about underground warfare.
La Boîte à Livres, 19 rue nationale, 37000 Tours
tél. : 02.47.05.70.39 - e-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org – website
Just published : La guerre souterraine (underground warfare)
La guerre souterraine (underground warfare), is published by éditions Perrin (Paris).
During troubled periods, all around the world, people dug underground passages (souterrains) to protect and defend themselves and also to attack the enemies.
This book presents a panorama of underground warfare around the world developed in the following chapters :
- underground cities dug in Cappadocia (Turkey) between the 8th and the 15th century,
- underground refuges used in the west of France from the 12th to the 16th century,
- village underground refuges dug and used by the villagers in northern France between the 15th and the 18th century,
- methods of undermining in the world from the Antiquity to the 20th century,
- use of quarries by soldiers in the north-east of France during the First World War,
- tunnel warfare in Vietnam during the Indochina war, then the Vietnam war (20th century),
- cave warfare in Algeria from the 19th century to the 20th century,
- high mountain complexes used by Mudjahideen and Taliban in Afghanistan during 20th and early 21th century,
- tunnels used at present in Lebanon and Gaza.
Thanks to more than 25 years of research and thought, this original synthesis is based on exploration, archaeological evidences and various testimonies. It is the first time that a book shows and explains how the circumstances lead populations or combatants to choose underground warfare.
Lecture on Souterrains of Touraine, Musée René Descartes, Descartes (Indre-et-Loire, France) Sunday, September 18, 2011 at 02 : 30 pm
Laurent will give a lecture on Souterrains of Touraine illustrated with 50 pictures.
Musée René Descartes, 29 rue René Descartes, 37160 DESCARTES - tél. : 02 47 59 79 19 - mail : email@example.com - web site
New topic in the Photo Library : Quarries (creutes) during the First World War
During the First World War, from the beginning of the position war, in Northeastern France from Arras to Verdun, the armies of both camps were looking for shelters for their first line units, but also for their billets, their support units, their storages and their hospitals… In order to hold out against the great artillery power, the militaries colonized old subterranean quarries or dug large subterranean works.
Many period photographs show lifestyle in these subterranean shelters and so called creutes.
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New topic in the Photo Library : the Tunnels of Vietnam
During the Indochina war, then the Vietnam war, Viet-minh and Viet-cong fighters dug gigantic subterranean networks under Vietnamese villages and jungle. These war tunnels were used as shelter for fighters, protecting them from bombardments, enabling them to escape from mopping-up operations, to move secretly and to counter attack where they were not expected. So, at the time of the Têt offensive, the attack on Saigon started from the famous Cu Chi tunnels, set about 40 kilometres north of Saigon.
Elsewhere, Vietnamese people have dug village underground refuges in order to protect civilian population, fighters and storages of weapons and ammunition.
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Presentation at the SFES symposium 11th-12th september 2010 in Loudun (Vienne, France)
The souterrain of the castle of La Roche-Clermault and its graffiti.
More information about the symposium
Photographic Exhibition Cave dwellings in the Loire valley Bibliothèque municipale de Saint-Pierre-des-Corps (France), March 30 – April 30, 2010