(b Saumur, 29 June 1826; d Paris, 4 April 1874).
French archaeologist and politician. In 1849 he was named a member of the Ecole Française d’Athènes, created three years earlier by Louis-Philippe, King of France. Beulé was an elegant and urbane man whose energy and curiosity led him towards active field research through travel and excavation. He explored Arcadia, Elis and Achaia in 1850, publishing his findings in 1855, and as early as 1852–3 undertook excavations on the west slope of the Acropolis at Athens that were to make him famous. Using ‘50 pounds of powder’ to blow up the Turkish defences that obstructed the space before the Propylaia, he uncovered the great Roman staircase and the Byzantine postern gate known as the ‘Beulé Gate’. Deceived by the high quality of the Classical marble reused in this late monument, he believed he had discovered the original entrance to the Acropolis built by Mnesikles or at least, on later reflection, ‘conforming to Mnesikles’ plans’. The repercussions of this discovery and the polemics they entailed brought fame to Beulé and ‘its first ray of glory’ to the Ecole d’Athènes, welcome at a time when its usefulness was being questioned in Paris. Beulé helped to ensure its survival and its transformation into an archaeological research institute. He carried out excavations at Byrsa in 1859 (published 1860), taught archaeology at the Bibliothèque Nationale and was elected a member of the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres (1860), then of the Académie des Beaux-Arts (1862), of which he became permanent secretary.
From The Grove Encyclopedia of Classical Art and Architecture in Oxford Reference.