More than 200 skeletons have been discovered in a mass grave under a supermarket in Paris, France.
The remains were discovered during redevelopment of the basement of a Monoprix on Rue Sebastopol, France 24 writes.
It adds the supermarket stands on the former site of a medieval hospital, which was torn down in the 18th century, but archaeologists do not know why the bodies were placed there or how they died.
The majority of the bodies buried in the hospital’s original cemetery were moved to another location so it is uncertain why these, stacked sometimes six deep, were left behind.
Archaeologists from the French National Institute for Preventative Archaeological Research suspect the men, women and children may have died of plague or in a famine and plan to carry out DNA tests on the remains.
“What is surprising is that the bodies were not thrown into the graves but placed their with care. The individuals… were placed head to toe no doubt to save space,” archaeologist Isabelle Abadie told The Telegraph.
She added: “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. The crisis may have resulted from an epidemic, famine or extreme fever.”
MSN points out Paris was hit by epidemics of the plague in the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries, as well as by a smallpox outbreak in the 17th century.
Store manager Pascal Roy told AFP: “We expected it to have a few bones to the extent that it had been a cemetery but not find mass graves.”