• Short Summary

    In France, what has been described as the most important archaeological discovery in recent years has been uncovered during reconstruction work on a Paris bank.

  • Description

    GV Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris

    GV Arches over entrance to Notre Dame

    GV & CU Tourists looking at statues around arches (3 shots)

    CU & GV Bank director Francois Giscard d'Estaing speaking and shots of statues and excavations (2 shots)

    GV Notre Dame cathedral

    FRANCOIS GISCARD D'ESTAING: "Of course we showed all these discoveries -- all these pieces -- to the French administration -- the Ministere des Affaires Culturelles -- and the museums and the archaeologists and they immediately told us that we were right, and that these stones and pieces came from Notre Dame and it was probably one of the most important archaeological discoveries since years. We found that the land where they were buried had been bought by a man called Lakanal, the brother of a very famous French Deputy during the French revolution. And this Lakanal at that time was precisely building a little house for himself, up there, so it's not so extraordinary that he was interested in buying stones....... ....somewhere. But instead of using them for building the house, as he was very royalist and Catholic he decided to do what is normally done with holy images. They must not be destroyed. They must be, according to the Catholic law, either burned or buried. And he simply buried them like a human corpse or human bones. He opened a sort of tomb less than one metre large and five metres long and buried very carefully all these pieces, because all these pieces belonged to holy statues. And he did something very touching and very impressive -- all the heads were buried facing the south -- that means facing the cathedral of Notre Dame."

    Initials BB/1650

    Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved

    Background: In France, what has been described as the most important archaeological discovery in recent years has been uncovered during reconstruction work on a Paris bank. A total of 157 pieces dating from the late 12th and early 13 centuries were unearthed from beneath the building. Twenty of them are large heads from gothic statues. There is also one medium sized head, five smaller ones and about ten fragments from column statues. They have been authenticated by the Director of Historical Antiquities of Paris, Michel Fleury, as originating from the "Gallery of Kings" in Notre Dame Cathedral.

    Positive identification of the discovery was possible because one of the statues -- showing a person wearing medieval clothes and holding a book to his chest -- is reproduced exactly in a drawing by a museum director working during the French revolution who catalogued items from Notre Dame.

    SYNOPSIS: Overall, Notre Dame looks much the same today as it did when it was built in the 12th century. But during the French revolution royalist monuments from around the main entrance were removed, broken up and the remains sold as material for construction work on new buildings. But, as bank director Francois Giscard d'Estaing -- a cousin of the French president -- explains, some fell into pious hands.

    Eventually they will probably find their way back there -- on permanent exhibition in the crypt.

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    Reuters - Source to be Verified
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