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Almost three years ago, the world watched in horror as the iconic 12-century Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris was in flames.

Out of the ashes, however, came an unusual discovery, Live Science reported.

Recently French archaeologists found a number of old tombs, including a 14th-century lead sarcophagus, below the floor, during renovation work. Specifically, the archaeological team came across the artifacts while surveying the cathedral’s transept where workers had been planning to erect scaffolding to rebuild the building’s burned spire.

The transept – a part of the cathedral where the floor runs perpendicular to the main building – was covered with a stone layer dating to the 18th century. The team found many burial sites hidden below, which suggested that the site was used as a burial ground for many years.

These tombs date back to the 14th century and possibly the 13th century. Among them was also the peculiar lead sarcophagus, which researchers described as “fully preserved.”

It’s unclear who exactly was entombed in the sarcophagus but archeologists theorized that the person was a “high dignitary.”

Along with the tombs, the team also found a pit filled with painted sculptures that were once part of Notre Dame’s rood screen – an ornate partition that divides different ends of the cathedral.

France’s ministry of culture said that the new find will likely provide new data on the rood screen and on the quality of its painted decoration.

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