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Archaeologists find unidentified tombs in reconstruction of Notre-Dame in Paris

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During archaeological investigations into the reconstruction of the burned Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, researchers discovered several previously unknown tombs. The findings are of “remarkable scientific quality”, the French Culture Ministry said on Monday. Among the graves was a “fully preserved lead sarcophagus” in which a “high dignitary of the fourteenth century” was believed to have been buried.

The tombs were discovered at the level of the transept where the nave and transept of the cathedral intersect. Alongside the tombs, archaeologists discovered a “well” under what is now the cathedral’s floor covering, in which “multi-coloured sculptures were buried”. These are part of the old Notre-Dame cross screen, which was built around 1230 and destroyed in the early 18th century.

This is a partition, often ornate, that separates the clergy room from the rest of the nave. Parts of this screen were found during the construction of the spire in the 19th century. They are now on display at the Louvre Museum.

Notre-Dame was partially destroyed in a fire in 2019. Stabilization work was completed last fall. Since then, the actual reconstruction of the medieval building has begun. Hundreds of oak trees were felled for the reconstruction of the roof structure. The reconstruction was delayed due to the corona pandemic. It is now planned to reopen before the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.

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