Edouard Alfred Martel


Image: a rope dedicated to the Speological Institute at Cluj by Martel. This may give en idea of the equipment at this time. This rope was developed by Martel for his cave expeditions.
Image: E. A. Martel on one of his most famous expeditions into Gaping Gill, Yorkshire, Great Britain. Painting by Lucien Rudaux. From the WorldMartel Gallery by Bernd Kliebhan.

Edouard Alfred Martel is the father of modern speleology, not only in France. He was the first one, who explored caves with a scientific interest. Speleology didn't exist at this time, and he had no geological background. He felt more like a Geographer, discovering new territory underground.

Martell was a lawyer, but he didn't like his profession very much. So he used the first possibility to become the first full time caver of history. He bought the ShowcaveGouffre de Padirac and made it a show cave.

Martel organized his cave tours in campaigns that looked like Himalaya expeditions. Many locals were paid to haul heavy equipment. The tours were made by Martel, his friend Lucien Rudaux who made paintings of the expedition, and the blacksmith Louis Armand who was responsible for most of the equipment.

Between 1888 and 1914, Martel organized annual campaigns all over Europe. Some of the highlights were: