Climate change is a man-made environmental effect that is having consequences all over the globe. It’s causing glaciers to melt at increasingly rapid rates. This melting is causing sea levels to rise, as well as exposing new terrain, much of which hasn’t been explored. While receding glaciers are a huge problem, having access to areas that were once completely covered by glaciers has given archeologists a chance to study parts of the world they never could before. In 2004, a group of archeologists were exploring Trentino, Italy. A province nestled among the Alps, its scenery is world-class. There are also dark secrets lying underneath the glaciers that are now being exposed.
During World War I, the most elite of the Italian troops were trained to survive and battle the Austrians and Germans in the arduous mountain conditions. In what became known as the White War, soldiers would make camp in the mountains at elevations upwards of 6,500 feet.
Around 2004, the glaciers started to recede. When this happens, areas that haven’t been exposed for thousands of years are now coming to the light. As the glaciers recede, the bodies of the soldiers that were killed in these mountains are slowly being exposed after over 100 years.
The first time some of these soldiers were discovered was in early 2004, when the bodies of 3 Austrian soldiers were seen partially buried in the snow. I can’t imagine being the first person to come across these.
Many of the 150,000 deaths that occurred on this mountaintop battleground were the result of avalanches, frostbite and illness. Since the first skeletons were discovered, more than 80 others have been found.
If that wasn’t enough, archeologists also discovered other fascinating artifacts. They discovered tunnels that soldiers had built directly into the mountainside.
Items of a more personal nature have also been recovered such as pictures, playing cards and even some food that was preserved in the cold.
The goal now is to make sure these artifacts are able to be preserved. Many of these items would fetch a high price at an auction, so many people are tempted to try to claim them for themselves.
It’s not known how many more soldiers lie under the ice. For each one that is found, they are given a full military funeral with all the honors that come with it, even 100 years later.
Finding something like this would be extremely frightening, but also exhilarating at the same time. This is the kind of discovery that can get your funding for future expeditions. Hopefully more of these bodies can be recovered and laid to rest properly. No matter what side these soldiers belonged too, they deserve that much.