Archaeological tombs discovered in Notre Dame cathedral in Paris as restoration work continues

French archaeologists have discovered several tombs and a lead sarcophagus dating from the 14th century in Notre Dame cathedral in Paris after the devastating 2019 fire, the French culture ministry said.

The ministry said Monday that burial sites of “exquisite scientific quality” were discovered during preparations for the reconstruction of the ancient church’s tower at the central point where the church crosses the nave.

She added that among the graves, “a stone sarcophagus in the form of a human being completely preserved and made of lead.”

The sarcophagus was probably made for “a dignitary” and likely dates from the 13th century CE – the century after the cathedral was built.

In addition to the tombs, elements of carvings were found below the cathedral’s current floor level, identified as fragments of the original 13th-century screen – an architectural element separating the altar area from the nave.

Other parts of the structure, destroyed in the early 18th century, were discovered during the restoration of Notre Dame in the mid-19th century and are already on display in the Louvre.

French researchers conducted the last archaeological excavation before scaffolding was constructed to support the rebuilding of the tower.

The culture ministry said the investigation had been extended until March 25.


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