CAIRO – 17 March 2022: Archaeologists uncovered an ancient lead sarcophagus under Notre Dame cathedral, along with fragments of a rood screen, offering new insight into the history of the building, which is currently undergoing reconstruction after a devastating fire in 2019.
Excavation has taken place in the Notre Dame Basilica, which dates back to the 12th century, as a precaution before the scaffolding needed to restore a 100-meter-high wooden ceiling ledge.
"The floor of the crossing has revealed remains of remarkable quality," French Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot said, adding that the excavation had been extended until March 25.
Bachelot added that the excavation site is located under a stone layer that dates back to the 18th century, but some of the lower levels date back to the 14th century, and some date back to the early 13th century.
"We were able to send a small camera to the archaeological site that showed the remains of fabric and organic materials such as hair and plant remains," said Christophe Besnier of the Institut National de Archeology in France.
According to Reuters, archaeologists said the lead stone sarcophagus may have belonged to a prominent figure and could date back to the 14th century, which - if confirmed - would make it a stunning find.
Excavations have also revealed a pit just below the cathedral floor, which was likely excavated around 1230, when Notre Dame, one of the earliest examples of French Gothic architecture, was under construction.
The Notre Dame fire shocked France. Parisians wept and tourists watched in disbelief as the fire led to the collapse of the cathedral's tower.