Whether it’s the thought of Quasimodo swinging from its famous bell tower, grotesque gargoyles grinning down on the city or the vision of the famous gothic towers that stand watchful over Paris, Notre Dame cathedral sparks awe and wonderment the world over.
But as the ancient landmark is undergoing major reconstructive work after the devastating fire which tore through its frame in April 2019, archaeologists have uncovered numerous tombs dating back to the 1400s mysteriously hidden beneath the cathedral’s floor.
Before renovation workers were able to erect scaffolding to begin repairs on the cathedral’s 100 meter high wooden roof-bridge, archaeologists were given the unprecedented permission to excavate the area.
In a discovery hailed as “remarkable” by historians, upon excavation work, a pit beneath the 12th century cathedral’s floor was unearthed and the ancient tombs were uncovered. Among them was a “completely preserved, human-shaped sarcophagus made of lead”, likely “for a senior dignitary”.
While the site of the dig was in a stone area the archaeologists thought was from around the 18th century, France’s culture minister said lower levels of the pit were much older – possibly even 13th century.
“We were able to send a small camera inside which showed cloth remains, organic matter such as hair and plant remains”, said Christophe Besnier from France’s National Archaeological Institute.
“The fact that these plants are still there indicates that the contents have been very well preserved.” Read more