Mass Grave Found Under Paris Supermarket

'We expected it to have a few bones,' says Monoprix manager
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 1, 2015 5:10 PM CST
Mass Grave Found Under Paris Supermarket

Good thing shoppers didn't know about this: Archaeologists digging under a Paris supermarket have found more than 200 skeletons, most of them buried neatly in a mass grave, France 24 reports. Management at the Monoprix supermarket wanted the basement cleared for redevelopment, but little did they know: "We expected it to have a few bones to the extent that it had been a cemetery, but not find mass graves," says the store's manager. The supermarket sits on the site of of a medieval hospital that had its own cemetery, but most bodies were supposedly moved to the Paris Catacombs in the 1700s, the Telegraph reports.

Archaeologists found eight pits in all, the first seven housing five to 20 bodies each. The last contains more than 150 bodies, piled head to toe in two rows up to six bodies deep. "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," says the lead archaeologist. "The crisis may have resulted from an epidemic, famine, or extreme fever." Makes sense, considering that multiple plague epidemics hit Paris between the 1300s and the 1500s, and smallpox struck in the 1600s. Archaeologists plan to conduct carbon dating and DNA analyses to see when and why those people died in the Hôpital de la Trinité, which was torn down in the 1700s. (Read about a Florida cemetery where the bodies are all missing.)

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