Frederic Lemaire is an archaeologist based in northern France. He works as a research engineer at the National Institute for Preventative Archaeological Research (INRAP). This involves excavating sites before new infrastructure is built to save any historically-significant artefacts before they become inaccessible.
From 1992 to 2008, the archaeologist led research projects on towns and rural settlements of antiquity. He also specialises in the archaeological study of the great wars of recent history, including the Napoleonic period, the Great War and the Second World War.
In 2005 and subsequent years, Frederic Lemaire was in charge of excavations researching Napoleon’s Camp stationed around Boulogne-sur-Mer from 1803-1805. The camp had been set up to prepare an invasion - which never happened – of Great Britain, and formed the basis for the French Emperor’s Great Army.
The French archaeologist has also investigated the death throes of the Great Army during the Russia campaign, taking part in digs at the site of the Battle of Berezina in Belarus in 2012. There, the remnants of Napoleon’s fighting machine desperately scrambled out of Russia, after its failed invasion, becoming a byword in French for a complete disaster.
In May 2019, he led the French side of the "Smolensk 1812-2019" joint Franco-Russian archaeological project. The team searched for General Gudin’s remains in Smolensk’s Sheinov bastion and also made several finds at the site of the Valutina Gora battle, east of the city.
For Frederic Lemaire, the discovery of artefacts sheds light on the lived experience of soldiers and adds to the overall picture of events that historians form from the study of documents. In January 2020, he defended a new doctoral thesis on “Napoleon’s soldiers within their camp”.