French dig uncovers 18th-century mass graves





Archaeologists in northern France have stumbled upon two mass graves dating back to the years of civil strife unleashed after the French Revolution of 1789, officials say.

Located in a park in the city of Le Mans, the graves contain the bodies of about 30 people, including several women, two male teenagers and a child, the INRA archaeology institute said on Monday.

All were identified as victims of a massacre on December 12 and 13, 1793, as republican forces repelled royalist Catholic rebels from the city of Le Mans, during the first War of the Vendee.

The first grave contained nine or 10 bodies, some still wearing shirt buttons and boot buckles, or carrying knives, while the second, sealed shut with a thick layer of lime, contained about 20 bodies.

All bore the signs of an extremely violent attack, with broken leg, jaw and shoulder bones, according to INRA.

The graves were discovered during a dig to make way for a new cultural centre.

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