The remains of at least 500 people who died guillotined between 1793 and 1794, in the midst of the French Revolution, were found within the walls of the Expiatory Chapel in Paris, temple authorities and archaeologists reported today.
“There is soil mixed with bone fragments,” said archaeologist Philippe Charlier, who said he verified it with a camera.
According to archaeologists, the remains found belong to people who were executed on the guillotine at Place de la Concorde, in central Paris, between January 21, 1793 and July 28, 1794.
The finding was the result of an investigation launched in 2018 on behalf of the chapel administrator, Aymeric Peniguet de Stoutz, the French newspaper Le Parisien reported.
Peniguet de Stoutz promoted the investigation after reading that King Louis XVII, in ordering the removal of the temple, decreed “that no land saturated with victims of the Revolution be transferred for the construction of the chapel.”
The Expiatory Chapel was ordered to be built in 1814 by Louis XVII in memory of his brother Louis XVI and his wife, María Antonieta, executed on the guillotine in 1793.
It was built on the site where the Magdalena cemetery operated, closed in 1794 after being filled.
The remains of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette had been initially buried there, then transferred to the Saint Denis basilica, as well as the remains of hundreds of guillotine victims.
Also in La Magdalena were the remains of Maximilien Robespierre, who died on the guillotine on July 28, 1794 after having promoted the so-called Kingdom of Terror that had brought hundreds of people to the same end.
“Until now, the chapel only served as a monument to the memory of the royal family but we have discovered that it is also a necropolis of the Revolution,” said Peniguet de Stoutz.
“I cried when the coroner assured me that I had seen human phalanges in the photographs,” he added.