Notre-Dame’s two sarcophagi reveal some of their secrets

Notre-Dame's two sarcophagi reveal some of their secrets

After all, misfortune is good, we can remind archaeologists who had the unexpected opportunity to work in the cathedral on April 15, 2019, after the fire of Notre-Dame de Paris. This was especially the case in the spring of 2022, when crossing the transept, between the nave and the choir, considering the reconstruction of the vault and the spire, a 700-ton scaffolding was to be installed. Since the installation of this heavy mechano forced to excavate several tens of centimeters of soil, experts from the National Institute for Preventive Archeology (INRAP) intervened at the suspected remains. The rest we know: two anthropomorphic lead coffins have been found. Who was inside? The first response was given by the Scientific Committee on Friday 9 December in Toulouse.

read more: The article is reserved for our subscribers At Notre-Dame de Paris, a sarcophagus causes trouble

Why not go to Haute-Garonne to solve one? “Cold Case” Centuries-old Paris? To take advantage of the knowledge of the Forensic Institute of the Toulouse University Hospital, where the analysis of the exceptional mummy of Luis de Cuengo was carried out, discovered in 2013 during the excavations of the Jacobins convent in Rennes. One of the pioneers of archaeological anthropology in France, Eric Grubesi, a professor at Paul-Sabbatier University, works in Toulouse, having excavated burials and necropolises around the world, from Egypt to Siberia.

The problems are different for those in the coffin because one is known and the other is unknown. One was where he was buried, and the other was moved. One was old and the other was still young when he died. Let’s save the mystery for last and start with the identified dead. “His coffin was in the exact axis of the nave and central entrance, Inrap archaeologist Christophe Besnier, head of the Notre-Dame excavations, explains. From the beginning we know his identity thanks to three elements. Beneath the tomb was a large lead plaque bearing the Latin inscription Antoine de la Porte. »

Plaque attached to a coffin.  She said:
At the unveiling of the sarcophagi of Notre-Dame de Paris, at the Medico-Legal Institute of the University Hospital of Toulouse.

The second sign is a small plaque attached to the coffin. She says: “Cy is the body of the Church’s Messieur Antoine de la Porte [un mot effacé] Died December 24, 1710 aged 83e Year. Listen at speed. » The third and final clue is in the form of three bronze medallions depicting the image of the deceased placed on the “sarcophagus”. There was Antoine de la Porte “Canon for more than fifty years, which earned him the nickname “Jubilee Canon”, Christophe Besnier recalls. He was a wealthy patron and donated 10,000 pounds to repair the choir stalls of Notre-Dame de Paris. »

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