Mystery lead sarcophagus found in cathedral to be opened.
France is marking the third anniversary of the devastating Notre Dame Cathedral fire, as restoration has officially begun to return the iconic structure to its original glory.
The initial phase to secure and safeguard what was left of the 12th century French Gothic landmark ended last summer, with the restoration work finally kicking off over the winter.
The safety, cleaning and reconstruction efforts are a vast national enterprise for France, with 90 state-sponsored contracts already issued to companies to help clean, consolidate and rebuild Notre Dame. In total, 130 such contracts will be issued, according to the public body established to oversee the restoration work.
After months of debate over the future of the famed medieval cathedral, the plans were approved by a national commission and “include the identical restoration of the oak wood frame and the roofing of the large attic as well as the restoration of the spire of Viollet-le-Duc,” the Public Establishment for the Conservation and Restoration of Notre Dame said in a statement Thursday.
One of the silver linings associated with the dark cloud of destruction is that the archaeological digs under the fire-damaged cathedral have yielded a treasure trove of objects dating back to the 13th century.
Among the finds were pieces of the lost rood screen of Notre Dame built around 1230. It was destroyed at the beginning of the 18th century.
“Thanks to the excavation, several hundred lapidary elements ranging from several hundred grams to nearly 400 kg were found, buried in the eastern area of the transept,” Inrap said in its report.
The report marked the end of excavations at the crossing of the transept of the cathedral.
Graves were also discovered as several burials were identified and exhumed.
One of the items located was a lead sarcophagus that teams are planning to open.
A mysterious leaden sarcophagus discovered in the bowels of Paris’ Notre-Dame cathedral after it was devastated by a fire will soon be opened and its secrets revealed, French archaeologists said Thursday.
The announcement came just a day before the third anniversary of the inferno that engulfed the 12th century Gothic landmark, which shocked the world and led to a massive reconstruction project.
During preparatory work to rebuild the church’s ancient spire last month, workers found the well-preserved sarcophagus buried more than a metre (three feet) underground, lying among the brick pipes of a 19th century heating system.
But it is believed to be much older — possibly from the 14th century.
Scientists have already peeked into the sarcophagus using an endoscopic camera, revealing the upper part of a skeleton, a pillow of leaves, fabric and as-yet unidentified objects.
Given how the past two years have gone, I question the wisdom of opening a lead sarcophagus. As a fan of ancient Egypt, I can attest to the fact that is how all the horror and terror usually begins.DONATE
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