The melting ice in the Italian Alps has revealed a “time capsule” of the daily life of soldiers fighting in World War I.
Glacial melt near the famous Stelvio Pass in northern Italy has revealed a cave shelter used by Austro-Hungarian soldiers, complete with weapons, lamps, cooking utensils and corpses.
The White War Museum in nearby Adamello said the frozen barracks preserved the moment “when the last Austrian soldier hastily closed the front door to descend” the mountain in 1918.
The White War is the name given to the fighting in the high alpine sector of the Italian front during the First World War.
Many soldiers died in temperatures as low as -40 degrees Celsius at the 3,000-meter summit of Mount Scorluzzo.
Today, rising temperatures shed new light on their daily lives, according to Stefano Morosini, historian and coordinator of heritage projects in Stelvio National Park.
“The Barracks is a White War time capsule that helps us understand the extreme and starving conditions soldiers experienced,” he told The Guardian.
“The knowledge that we are able to gather today from the relics is a positive consequence of the negative fact of climate change.”
Salvage work on the site began in 2017, with more than 300 relics revealing the “inhuman conditions” endured by the soldiers, according to the White War Museum, which will display the objects.
According to Marco Ghizzoni, a member of staff at the White War Museum, who also helped excavate the Mount Scorluzzo barracks, the slowly receding ice has also revealed gruesome findings.
“A corpse is found every two or three years, usually in places where there was fighting on the glacier,” he said.