Medieval mass grave under Paris supermarket

The discovery was made in the basement of a Monoprix supermarket located on Rue Sebastopol. The archaeologists have found eight separate mass grave so far. Seven of them have between five and twenty individuals, buried two to five deep. The eighth grave has at least 150 dead. They were deposited carefully and show a deposit method very organized: at least two rows of individuals are filed “head to tail”, a third row seeming to grow beyond the limits of the excavation. The bodies are buried five to six 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 Agence France Presse.

This very large mass grave appears to correspond to a mortality crisis whose cause is currently unknown. Adults (women and men of all ages) and children are represented. The skeletal remains do not show damage to immediately identify the cause of the mass death. Paris was struck by the Black Death in the 14th century, and suffered other plagues in following centuries.

“What is surprising is that the bodies were not thrown into the graves but placed there with care. The individuals – men, women and children – were placed head to toe no doubt to save space,” said archaeologist Isabelle Abadie, who is leading the dig.

The site was once home to l’hôpital de la Trinité, which was built in 1202. Located just outside the medieval walls of Paris, the hospital provided care for pilgrims and the poor. By the 16th century the site had become an orphanage and its buildings were torn down in 1817.

France’s National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research (INRAP) plan to carry out extensive research on the site. They note that many aspects of funeral practices associated with medieval and early modern hospitals remain unknown in France, with less than a dozen sites in the country have been the subject of archaeological studies. They will soon carry out DNA testing in order to learn more about the people who were buried here.

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25 new properties inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List

From WHC:

The World Heritage Committee has inscribed a total of 25 sites on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, including three natural properties, 21 cultural and one mixed site. Two properties were added to the World Heritage List in Danger and one was removed from that list. The World Heritage List now numbers 936 properties: 183 natural sites; 725 cultural; and 28 mixed.

Natural properties:

  • Ningaloo Coast (Australia)
  • Ogasawara Islands (Japan)
  • Kenya Lake System in the Great Rift Valley (Kenya)

Mixed natural and cultural properties:

  • Wadi Rum Protected Area (Jordan)

Cultural Properties:

  • Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison (Barbados)
  • West Lake Cultural Landscape of Hangzhou (China)
  • Coffee Cultural Landscape of Colombia (Colombia)
  • The Persian Garden (Iran)
  • Konso Cultural Landscape (Ethiopia)
  • The Causses and the Cévennes, Mediterranean Agro-pastoral Cultural Landscape (France)
  • Fagus Factory in Alfeld (Germany)
  • Longobards in Italy. Places of the power (568-774 A.D.) (Italy)
  • Hiraizumi – Temples, Gardens and Archaeological Sites Representing
  • The Buddhist Pure Land (Japan)
  • Fort Jesus, Mombasa (Kenya)
  • Petroglyphs Complexes of the Mongolian Altai (Mongolia)
  • León Cathedral (Nicaragua)
  • Saloum Delta (Senegal)
  • Cultural Landscape of the Serra de Tramuntana (Spain)
  • Archaeological Sites of the Island of Meroe (Sudan)
  • Prehistoric Pile dwellings around the Alps (Switzerland, Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Slovenia)
  • Ancient Villages of Northern Syria (Syrian Arab Republic)
  • Selimiye Mosque Complex at Edirne (Turkey)
  • Cultural Sites of Al Ain (Hafit, Hili, Bidaa Bint Saud and Oases Areas) (United Arab Emirates)
  • The Residence of Bukovinian and Dalmatian Metropolitans (Ukraine)
  • Citadel of the Ho Dynasty (Viet Nam)

Extensions:

  • Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and the Ancient Beech Forests of Germany (Slovakia, Ukraine, Germany)

Additions to the World Heritage List in Danger:

  • Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve (Honduras)
  • Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra (Indonesia)

Removed from World Heritage List in Danger:

  • Manas Wildlife Sanctuary (India)

Short description of each property can be viewed here.