Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

EYE ON AFRICA

In Memory of Jean-Karim Fall, 1958-2017

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Bad diplomacy, brawls & bromance

Read more

ENCORE!

Cannes 2017: Pitch Perfect's Brittany Snow becomes an urban warrior

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

US President wraps up world tour in Italy (Part 1)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

US President wraps up world tour in Italy (Part 2)

Read more

FOCUS

The battle against illegal fishing in West Africa

Read more

DOWN TO EARTH

Trump has already quit the Paris climate deal - just not publicly

Read more

#TECH 24

The Ice Memory Project: A treasure trove for future scientists

Read more

ENCORE!

Cannes 2017: Stars dig deep at AIDS gala dinner

Read more

France

More than two hundred skeletons discovered in mass grave beneath Paris supermarket

© FRANCE 24 | Archaeologists have unearthed more than 200 skeletons beneath a Paris supermarket

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2015-03-01

More than 200 skeletons have been discovered in a medieval mass grave beneath a supermarket in the middle of the French capital, with archeologists unsure of how they died or why the bodies were placed there.

The grisly discovery was made beneath a Monoprix supermarket on Rue Sebastopol in the 2nd arrondissement of Paris, which stands on the site of a medieval hospital torn down in the 18th century.

When the store’s management decided to carry out redevelopment work on its basement, it gave archaeologists a chance to see what was buried beneath.

What they found was dozens of skeletons of men, women and children aligned head to toe and buried up to six people deep.

“We expected it to have a few bones to the extent that it had been a cemetery but not find mass graves,” store manager Pascal Roy told AFP.

When new buildings went up on the site of the former hospital the bodies buried in its cemetery were moved to another location, say archaeologists, but for some reason many were left behind.

'Major mortality crisis'

So far, bodies have been discovered in eight different pits, the first seven of them containing the remains of between five and twenty individuals. But it was the eighth pit that most took the excavators by surprise, with more than 150 skeletons laid out in two rows. And they say more remains are likely to be discovered as the excavations continue.

When and how the people died is still unknown, but the evidence so far points to a major and sudden loss of life.

“The fact that so many people were buried together, that the grave is this large, tends to show us that there was a major mortality crisis,” said Isabelle Abadie, who is leading the dig.

“The crisis may have resulted from an epidemic, famine, or extreme fever.”

Paris was hit by several epidemics of plague in the fourteenth, fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, as well as an outbreak of smallpox in the seventeenth century.

Carbon dating and DNA analysis will now be carried out on the remains to find out more about the people they belonged too and how they came to be there.

Date created : 2015-03-01

  • HURRIYET DAILY NEWS

    ‘Gate to Hell’ dug up in Turkey, archaeologists say

    Read more

  • UNITED KINGDOM

    Car park skeleton confirmed as King Richard III

    Read more

  • BULGARIA

    Europe’s oldest prehistoric town found in Bulgaria

    Read more

COMMENT(S)