Historian uses lasers to unlock mysteries of Gothic cathedrals

This story has been updated. It was originally published June 22, 2015.Thirteen million people visit the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris every year, entering through massive wooden doors at the base of towers as solidly planted as mountains. They stand in front of walls filigreed with stained glass and gaze at a ceiling supported by delicate ribs of stone.If its beauty and magnificence is instantly apparent, so much about Notre Dame is not. To begin with, we don’t know who built this cathedral—or how. (Discover the 800-year history of Notre Dame Cathedral.)The bishop of Paris, Maurice de Sully, commissioned the massive church complex around 1160. Yet the names of those who first constructed this masterpiece are lost to history. They left no records—only centuries of speculation—behind.“So much ink has been spilled over that building,” says art historian Andrew Tallon. “So much of it is completely wrong.” View Images

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