After numerous films, like the Mummies, the desire to poke your nose into mysterious sealed tombs would have to disappear completely and forever. However, French scientists, guided by anthropology, not Hollywood plots, intend to implement plans to open a sarcophagus discovered under the paved floor of Notre Dame Cathedral.
French Minister of Culture Roselyne Bachelot said in a statement that the sarcophagus is in remarkably good condition no structural damage other than a few minor cracks.
The tomb was discovered along with several other items buried underground at a depth of about 20 meters during restoration work in the fire-damaged cathedral. The tombs probably date back to the 14th century, and it is believed that the sarcophagus, made of lead and shaped like a man, may have belonged to a high-ranking church official of the time.
Using an endoscopic camera that was inserted into one of the cracks, scientists have already peered inside the tomb and recorded tissue remains and organic matter such as hair and plants, along with objects that have yet to be identified.
According to scientists , the fact that these plants are still there indicates that the contents are very well preserved.
The finds will soon be sent to the Institute of Forensic Medicine in Toulouse, where, using carbon dating technology, experts hope to learn more about the person and objects inside — in the Middle Ages, there was no such practice of human burial.
The study of the sarcophagus will be carried out carefully and with an anthropological emphasis, and not with an archaeological one, in accordance with French law. He will probably be reburied in the cathedral when the work is completed. “The human body — this is not an archaeological site, — officials explain. “The civil code applies to human remains, and archaeologists will study it that way.”
During excavations carried out as part of the Notre Dame de Paris restoration project after a devastating fire in April 2019, statues, sculptures, and medieval ceramic furniture were also discovered. Particularly noteworthy are the painted fragments of the original partition that separated the choir from the clergy during Mass. Parts of it were discovered in the 19th century by French architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc and are now on display in the Louvre.
Restoration work is ongoing and, according to French President Emmanuel Macron, it is expected to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site will open to the public in the spring of 2024, just in time for the Paris Olympics. Despite the fact that the museum is closed, people come to Place Notre Dame — it has a great view of the crypt and the entrance to the cathedral.
Tourists can get acquainted with the famous Gothic cathedral at the augmented reality exhibition in Paris at the Bernardine College. The same exposition is also exhibited in the USA in the building of the National Museum in Washington.