This Paris Life

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Ancient graveyard discovered during construction of Paris RER train line.

A monumental archaeological discovery has been unearthed in the heart of Paris: a vast necropolis dating back to the 2nd century, containing no fewer than 50 Roman graves and their skeletons. This significant discovery is the largest Gallo-Roman necropolis of Lutetia, of which no remains had been found since the 19th century. The discovery was made during preventive excavations at the construction site of the Port-Royal station, on the RER B line.

Archaeologists from the Institut de recherches archéologiques préventives (Inrap), who have been leading the excavation since March 6th on behalf of the State (Drac Île-de-France), have uncovered a treasure trove of exceptional remains, including furniture and objects such as coins, ceramic and glass containers, jewelry, and even traces of shoes.

Camille Colonna, an anthropologist in charge of the operation for Inrap, expressed her enthusiasm for the discovery, stating that “we had never got our hands on the remains of this necropolis since the Haussmannian building sites.”

These remains offer a unique opportunity to better understand the funerary world of Paris in antiquity, which has remained largely unknown to historians. Dominique Garcia, president of Inrap, explained that “what we find in the tombs, we also find in the habitat, and this will teach us more about the supply places of Parisians of the time.”

With the completion of the excavations on April 28th, the bones and furniture began a thorough analysis in the laboratory. This will include efforts to better understand the organization of the tombs, why they were superimposed, and what the individuals buried there died of. A report on the findings will be submitted to the State within two years.


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