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Open the mysterious coffin under the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

FranceFrench archaeologists on April 14 announced plans to open a coffin discovered under Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris after the structure was destroyed by fire.

The coffin below the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.  Photo:

The coffin below the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Image:

The announcement comes three years after a fire consumed the 12th-century Gothic cathedral, leading to a massive rebuilding project. During preparations to rebuild the church’s ancient spire last month, workers found an intact coffin buried 20 meters deep, among the bricks of a 19th-century heating system. However, researchers believe that the coffin is much older, possibly from the 14th century.

Scientists examined the coffin with an endoscope, revealing the upper part contained a skeleton, a pillow made of leaves, cloth and unidentified objects. The coffin was removed from the church on April 12, France’s INRAP National Institute of Archaeological Research said. Currently, the coffin is being kept in a safe place. Authorities will soon transfer it to the Institute of Forensic Medicine in the southwestern French city of Toulouse.

The team of forensic experts and scientists will then open the coffin and study the inside, determining the gender and condition of the remains. According to archaeologist Christophe Besnier, they were able to date them by carbon isotopes. Because it is located under a mound with furniture from the 14th century, the coffin has its origins in the Middle Ages. Thus, researchers can find out the social status of the dead. Based on the location and manner of burial, they assumed that the deceased belonged to the aristocracy of the time.

However, Dominique Garcia, head of the INRAP institute, stressed that the remains would be examined according to French regulations. After completing the research, the coffin will be returned and the institute is considering the possibility of placing the coffin at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.

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