Update on efforts to restore Notre Dame

A bell of Notre Dame
A bell of Notre Dame, when they were in the place before the fire

Science News reports that archaeologists are among the more than 200 researchers in the Association of Scientists in Service of the Restoration of Notre Dame of Paris, France’s National Center of Scientific Research (CNRS), and the French Ministry of Culture who will examine the twelfth-century cathedral damaged by fire.


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Scientists get a glimpse of the origins of Notre Dame

Protection for missing roof
Photo: Brian Katz

There’s little documentation of the building process of Notre Dame, which began in 1163 and continued for about 200 years. Olivier de Châlus has devoted himself to teasing out the unwritten rules of construction — how builders decided the size of columns or the height of flying buttresses, for example. He notes that builders lifted 100-kilogram stones more than 60 meters off the ground without the benefits of modern technology. Exactly how this was accomplished has been lost to time, he says.


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The roof of Notre Dame would benefit from being reconstructed with the same wood used centuries ago

Temporary roof cover
Temporary roof cover on Notre Dame

Eric Wirth, vice president of the Guild of French Architects, declared that it would be a grave mistake to rebuild the roof in anything but same wood used in its original construction.  He noted its natural fire resistance. “Notre Dame has been there for 800 years. If the structure had been made of steel, there would be no cathedral to speak of today,” he said. In a fire, “iron holds for half an hour, an hour, and then writhes, pulls on the walls and collapses everything.”


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Will Notre Dame’s vaulted ceiling be saved?

Vaulted ceiling of Notre Dame
Photo: Wikipedia Commons

The simple answer is that we don’t know yet.

The news comes two months after the Archbishop of Paris, Monsignor Michel Aupetit, announced that a final evaluation of the damage would be concluded in Spring 2020. “We will have to encircle the scaffolding, then put a second scaffolding over it,” he said. “From this new scaffolding, workers will descend by rope and cut it bit by bit into small pieces and this will take a long time.”


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Sympathy for Australia

Australian bush fire

A fire took hold of Notre Dame in April last year and it left an immense mess but nobody was killed. Right now in Australia bush fires are burning the country. Some people are dying and tens of thousands of people are displaced.

Climate change is happening, and happening right now.


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