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Archaeologists discover a treasure trove of tombs and statues beneath the burning Notre Dame

Archaeologists discover a treasure trove of tombs and statues beneath the burning Notre Dame

Day after day three years ago, a fire broke out at Notre Dame in Paris. Archaeologists recently unearthed statues, carvings, a lead sarcophagus, and fragments of the original 13th century screen.

Archaeologists did not have time to research the entire area under the cathedral. As a result, the team was limited to only one part. Archaeologists are now forced to stop their work by erecting 30-meter-high, 600-ton scaffolding to rebuild the cathedral’s tower.


Photo: Dennis Glicksman, Inrap

French experts speak of an ‘unusual and emotional’ discovery, because in April 2019, the famous cathedral on the Île de la Cité in central Paris was partially destroyed. “It was an emotional moment,” says Christophe Besnier, lead science team. “Suddenly we have hundreds of pieces.”

Archaeologists discover a treasure trove of tombs and statues beneath the burning Notre Dame


Photo: Dennis Glicksman, Inrap

One of the most remarkable pieces of the ragged screen is a carved stone head of Jesus Christ. The other notable find is the lead sarcophagus. Experts suspect the burial of a high-ranking church official from the 14th century. DNA analysis should provide more clarity on this.

Coffins and sarcophagi have been excavated in Notre Dame before. But mostly they were provided with an identification card, so that it was quickly clear who was in the coffin.

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