Ancient tombs unearthed at Paris’ Notre Dame cathedral

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Several tombs and a leaden sarcophagus likely dating from the 14th century have been uncovered by archaeologists at Paris’ Notre Dame cathedral following its devastating 2019 fire, France’s culture ministry has said.

The burial sites “of remarkable scientific quality” were unearthed during preparatory work for rebuilding the ancient church’s spire at the central spot where the transept crosses the nave, the ministry said on Monday.


Among the tombs was the “completely preserved, human-shaped sarcophagus made of lead,” it added.

The coffin might have been made for “a senior dignitary” and likely dated from the 1300s - the century following the cathedral’s construction.

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As well as the tombs, elements of painted sculptures were found just beneath the current floor level of the cathedral, identified as parts of the original 13th-century rood screen - an architectural element separating the altar area from the nave.

Other parts of the structure, destroyed in the early 18th century, were unearthed during Notre Dame’s mid-1800s restoration and are already on display in the Louvre Museum.

French researchers have carried out the latest archaeological dig before scaffolding is set up to support the rebuilding of the spire.

Their investigation has been extended until March 25, the culture ministry said.

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