Workers Rebuilding Notre-Dame Discovered a 700-Year-Old Sarcophagus
A discovery that would have never occurred without the fire from 2019
Since 1163 AD when Notre-Dame had been originally constructed, there have been multiple legends and rumors created around the Cathedral, especially due to it being situated in the center of Paris. Some say it had many links with the catacombs known to promote the “dark world” of the renaissance age. Therefore people were not very surprised to find a sarcophagus right under the foundation of the Cathedral.
The Notre-Dame cathedral has quite a lot of history behind it and has become famous in the last few centuries from the novel “The Hunchback of Notre-Dame” written by Victor Hugo and published in 1833. Many animated series and movie adaptions have come out since then which promoted the beautiful cathedral even more.
On April the 15th, 2019, the cathedral had been engulfed in flames from within, causing the collapse of the prized spire and severe damage inside as well as outside of the cathedral. Firefighters managed to save the bell towers and the whole cathedral from collapsing. Even to this day, there isn’t a definitive cause to what started the fire. Experts speculate it had been caused by a short circuit caused by the temporary bells installed in the spire.
Due to how old this structure is, it is very expensive to restore as well as time-consuming. Since the beginning of the restoration in 2019, it is still not finalized, estimating that it will take at least two more years. The restoration process has once again been halted by an incredible discovery that took place on the 15th of March, 2022. Workers rebuilding the cathedral have found an ancient lead sarcophagus under Notre-Dame cathedral along with fragments of a rood screen.
This offers new insight into the history of the cathedral and it has all happened technically thanks to the fire. Whilst workers were taking precautionary measures to raise scaffolding over the 100-meter high wooden roof ridge, they discovered the sarcophagus. Roselyne Bachelot, France’s Culture Minister had mentioned that more excavations will take place to see if there is anything else to uncover:
“The floor of the transept crossing has revealed remains of remarkable scientific quality,” (Quote by Roselyne Bachelot)
The excavation site that had been discovered was originally believed to be from the 18th century, but from a historical analysis it turns out it could be as old as the 13th century. There is a possibility that the authorities during the time wanted to extend the catacombs due to the high rates of death. As Paris was overcrowded, there was no place for graveyards, so everyone was buried or better said placed to rest in the catacombs.
The sarcophagus is made of lead and likely holds the body of an important church dignitary. Researchers recently inserted a small camera inside the sarcophagus in an attempt to evaluate the state of its contents but were unable to identify the body entombed. The sarcophagus will be unsealed by experts in the upcoming days.