The Notre Dame fire swept the world. But the fire made a discovery possible in the first place. And this could have far-reaching consequences for research.
Munich/Paris – The fire at Notre Dame in April 2019 in Paris spread around the world. Images of the devastating cathedral fire shocked people around the world. The church in France’s capital is now in the middle of its reconstruction. But the catastrophic fire at the world-famous Catholic church also offered the opportunity to re-explore its history. One study brought forth an impressive discovery.
Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris: Reconstruction after fire brings innovative iron construction technology to light
Said study was carried out by a group of French scientists. It was published on the scientific specialist portal Plos One published. The scientists found out that iron was already one of the materials used in the construction of the cathedral. A new insight, because it was previously assumed that wooden stabilizers were used at the time.
Notre Dame was already built in the 12th century. According to scientific findings, it was common practice at that time to hold the stones of buildings together with wood. But in the world-famous cathedral, iron devices (25 centimeters to one meter long) were already used to keep the stones from breaking apart.
With archaeological observations and radiocarbon dating, it was now possible for the first time to assign the iron brackets in the walls of Notre Dame to a specific time. Because the cathedral has been renovated several times in the past centuries. Thus, adding the iron in a later construction phase had to be ruled out. But now it is clear: The material was already used at the beginning of the construction of the cathedral around 1163. And to this day has had a major effect on the stability and balance of Notre Dame.
Reconstruction of Notre Dame after fire reveals: iron brackets used in the walls
This makes Notre Dame the earliest known example of a Gothic cathedral using iron as a stabilizing material. So far it has been assumed that the first Gothic churches with iron material were Soissons Cathedral and the Cathedrals of Chartres and Bourges. Thanks to the study, the use of iron in the construction of Gothic cathedrals can now be proven 15 to 20 years earlier than previously assumed.
Notre Dame is now arguably the first known Gothic cathedral to make massive use of iron to hold stones together as the main building material.
The new study shows how innovative the construction of Notre Dame was for the time. As soon as the reconstruction is completed in 2024 and the cathedral is open again, visitors from all over the world will be able to marvel at the magnificent building again. Meanwhile, there was another sensational find in Notre Dame Cathedral: ancient tombs were found there.
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