important archaeological remains discovered during the reconstruction work

So Notre-Dame hadn’t given up all its secrets. Opened during reconstruction, the cathedral’s entrails have revealed important archaeological remains from the 14th century.and century, including a lead sarcophagus and delicate hands carved in stone. These remains, which were presented to the press on Tuesday, March 15, were discovered at the intersection of the transept. They are “of remarkable scientific quality”according to the Ministry of Culture.

The cathedral, partially destroyed by fire on April 15, 2019, is in the midst of reconstruction, following an initial phase of security that ended last summer. These are excavations prior to the installation of a 100-meter-high scaffolding that will be used for the reconstruction of the spire, which has uncovered these precious remains.

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“Know better the funeral rites” of the Middle Ages

To ensure the solidity of the soil on an area of ​​​​about 100 square meters, archaeologists and scientists conducted preventive excavations. This investigation revealed a network of underground brick pipes used for heating in the 19th century.and century. An anthropomorphic lead sarcophagus appeared in the center, deformed by the weight of earth and stones, the journalists noted.

“The discovery of this sarcophagus will enable both to better understand the practices and burial rituals” of the Middle Ages, explained Dominique Garcia, president of the National Institute of Archaeological Research (INRAP). The sarcophagus will be searched in a lab to find “know a little more about this character’s situation and the way he was probably embalmed”he added.

Since construction began, Notre-Dame has housed several tombs of personalities and religious leaders, but experts say this is the first time such a well-preserved sarcophagus has been found.

The archaeologists were able to introduce a mini-endoscopic camera. “We still see elements of matter, hair a priori and above all we saw a whole carpet of leaves above his head, that is a fairly well-known phenomenon” of the history of religious burial, said Christophe Besnier, archaeologist and excavation manager. According to him, “the fact that these plant elements are still there shows a priori a very good conservation status”† At this stage, we still don’t know the identity of the deceased, but it is likely a high dignitary of the Church.

“The whole history of France”

A few meters away, at the foot of the choir of Our Lady, archaeologists work intensively to excavate another treasure: the remains of the old rood screen. This stone platform, decorated with statues, formed a kind of barrier, separating the liturgical choir from the nave and the faithful. Built around 1230, it has lost its use over the centuries and was destroyed at the beginning of the 18th century.and century, experts said. During his work, in the middle of the 19thand century, Viollet-Le-Duc, designer of the spire, had found other fragments of this rood screen, which can now be seen in the Louvre.

On Tuesday, an archaeologist carefully dug up two stone hands from a depth of several centimeters that appeared to be begging him. Next to them, in plastic baskets: the bust of a bearded man, remains of carved vegetation and paint used in their creation.

Objects found in the floor of Notre-Dame Cathedral.

“It’s a great emotion, this cathedral is the whole history of Paris, of France and to stand in front of these remains is extremely impressive”said the Minister of Culture, Roselyne Bachelot.

According to General Jean-Louis Georgelin, president of the institution responsible for the preservation and restoration of the cathedral, the excavations must last until March 25 in order to start reconstruction for a reopening to the public, scheduled for 2024.

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The found remains will “preserved”, said the chairman of Inrap. All cavities become “filled with sand or clay granules” what could be then “vacuumed for work [archéologiques] future generations”he said.

The world with AFP