Archaeologists have found an ancient lead sarcophagus beneath Notre-Dame Cathedral, along with fragments of a rood screen, offering new insight into the history of the building currently being rebuilt after a devastating fire in 2019.
Dating back to the 12th century, Notre-Dame ordered excavations at the cathedral as a precautionary measure before installing the scaffolding needed to restore a 100-foot wooden ridge.
“The floor of the transept crossing has revealed remains of remarkable scientific quality,” said French Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot, adding that the excavation work has been extended until March 25. The excavation site is under a stony layer that dates back to the 18th century, but some of the lower levels date back to the 14th, and some as early as the early 13th century, the culture ministry said.
Christophe Besnier of the French National Archaeological Institute said: “We were able to send in a small camera that showed dust, organic matter such as hair and plant remains.”
“The fact that these plants are still there indicates that the contents are very well preserved.” Archaeologists said the lead sarcophagus likely belonged to a high dignitary and said it could date to the 14th century, which – if confirmed – would make it. a spectacular find. The excavation also revealed a well directly below the cathedral floor, which was probably made around 1230, when Notre-Dame, one of the oldest examples of French Gothic, was under construction.
The fire at Notre Dame shocked France, with tearful Parisians and stunned tourists watching in disbelief as the fire collapsed the cathedral’s spire.
Read all the latest news, breaking news and the war between Ukraine and Russia here.