More than 200 bodies have been found in a mass grave below a Paris supermarket.
The site was once the cemetery of a hospital that operated from the 12th to the 17th century, but it had previously been thought the corpses from the hospital and its cemetery had been moved in the 18th century to the Paris Catacombs, which are home to the bones of six million people transferred from the city's cemeteries 200 years ago.
The Monoprix supermarket called in archaeologists to inspect the site before building work began.
According to the Daily Telegraph, Pascal Roy, the director of the supermarket on Boulevard Sébastopol, said: "We thought that there would be a few bones as it was the site of a cemetery but we didn't think we would find a communal grave."
The paper adds that the archaeologists from the French National Institute of Preventive Archaelogogical Research (INRAP) plan to carry out DNA tests to discover the cause of death, which they believe could be the plague.
INRAP has released a statement about the find, writing: "Monoprix Reaumur Sebastopol occupies the old building Félix Potin, built on the site of the cemetery of Trinity Hospital, founded in the twelfth century and destroyed in the late eighteenth century.
Eight multiple graves have so far been discovered. Seven of them have between five and twenty individuals, filed in two to five levels.
INRAP adds: "The eighth hole is much more important with, for now, more than 150 dead. They were deposited carefully and show a very organised deposit method: 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 based on five to six levels.
"This very large mass grave whose boundaries are not identified, 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 (diseases, injuries) to identify the cause of the mass death. DNA samples are underway to determine it. Radiocarbon dating will also be conducted to understand the chronology of these multiple burials."
According to Big News Network, anthropologist Isabelle Abadie said: "The clues we have on the size of the pit, the number of individuals, all that, it leads us to think that this was due to a crisis.
"It could have been caused by different things like an epidemic, or a famine. It could also be fever. There may be many possible explanations."
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