SEVERAL tombs and a 14th-century sarcophagus have been uncovered during work to rebuild Notre Dame Cathedral after a devastating fire.
The tombs “of remarkable scientific quality” were discovered by archaeologists while repairs were being made to a central tower, France’s culture ministry said late Monday.
Among the finds was a “completely preserved lead sarcophagus in human form” believed to have been intended for a high-ranking dignitary in the 13th century – more than a century after the cathedral was built.
Archaeologists also found parts of painted sculptures under the cathedral’s floor, which have been identified as parts of the original 13th-century rood screen – an architectural piece separating the altar area from the nave.
The team also carefully unearthed a pair of carved hands.
The bust of a bearded man and some vegetable sculptures with traces of paint still visible were also removed.
Archaeologists were already using an endoscopic mini-camera to peer inside the sarcophagus, which appeared to be warped by the weight of the earth and stones.
“You can see bits of cloth, hair, and most importantly, a pillow made of leaves on the head, a well-known phenomenon when religious leaders were buried,” said Christophe Besnier, the lead archaeologist.
“Because these parts of the plant are still in there, the body is in a very good state of preservation.”
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The discoveries were made as reconstruction teams were poised to install huge scaffolding to rebuild the spire and needed to check the stability of the ground.
They discovered an underground heating system from the 19th century, with the sarcophagus lying between the brick pipes.
Despite the excitement surrounding the find, the clock is ticking for the archaeologists.
They have until March 25 to complete their work before the reconstruction project resumes – to meet a planned reopening of the cathedral in 2024.
The Notre Dame fire shocked France, with tearful Parisians and stunned tourists watching in disbelief as the fire destroyed the cathedral’s spire Crashed in April 2019.
https://www.thesun.ie/tech/8513068/bodies-found-under-notre-dame-cathedral/ Startling discovery under Notre Dame Cathedral during work to rebuild the cathedral after a devastating fire