Rising temperatures across the planet have affected the snow-topped Alps that dominate the border between Italy and Austria. Strangely, though, the change hasn’t been all doom and gloom—rising temperatures have paved the way for unbelievable discoveries.

For instance, in 2015, an Italian archeologist patrolled the top of a mountain peak with his team of excavators. There, he saw something peculiar sticking out of the snow. Curiosity piqued, he and his team uncovered the snow-covered object, only to discover it had a shocking connection to a brutal time in history…

Few knew the bloody history lurking beneath the snow of Italy’s popular alpine ski resorts better than 61-year-old Italian archaeologist Livio Defrancesco. In 2015, he spotted something strange while poking around the peak of a ski resort in Val di Fassa.

Though a major storm had just struck the mountainside, Livio saw a pair of boots sticking out from the snow. Was it the lost boot of a hiker or something more? Curiosity piqued, he and his crew went to work excavating the snow around the boot.

Back Country

As he and his team pulled the snow away, Livio realized they’d found something much more significant than an old boot. Though it would’ve been enough to ruin your average person’s day, Livio was beaming…

“I’m sure it’s an Italian soldier,” he told The Italian Tribune of the skeleton he’d found. “You can tell by what’s left of his boots, the ’91 ammo he has for his rifle and the Sipe hand grenade found near the body.” But how’d this fellow end up there?

Office for Archaeological Finds, Autonomous Province of Trento

That’s where the blood-filled and vicious history of northern Italy’s Alps came in to play. As is the case with many of Europe’s brutal stories, the tale of this particular skeleton dated back to World War I!

Stefano Torrione / National Geographic-Italia

In 1915, the Austro-Hungarian Empire controlled the Trentino and South Tyrol provinces of Northern Italy. Italy didn’t like that, so the nation sought to reclaim the territory as part of its own recently united front.

During the war, the most elite Italian soldiers trained to battle their Austrian and German enemies in cruel conditions. For three years, they camped in the Alps at elevations above 6,500 feet, where temperatures were obviously sub-freezing.

Museo Storico Italiano Della Guerra Di Rovereto

“June and July 1915 were bloody months on the mountain,” said Italian historian Michele Simonetti Federspiel. “At that time, the Italian generals were trying to gain dominance on the peaks that overlooked Val Corevole.”

Museo Storico Italiano Della Guerra Di Rovereto

This urgency only compounded the dangers of fighting in the Alps. More than 150,000 men lost their lives on the battlefront that’d eventually become known as The White War. And as for the skeleton that Livio found in 2015?

Museo della Grande Guerra, Peio

Livio believed the soldier died in that fighting. A shrapnel wound on his shoulder revealed he likely died in combat, not from frostbite or avalanches like so many others. This discovery, however, was not unique…

Source

In the 1990s, as the world continued to warm, the glaciers in the Alps slowly melted. As they did, nature revealed more and more of the history that it once concealed, like this Austrian rifle.

Museo della Grande Guerra, Peio

Another discovery—far more grim than Livio’s—occurred in 2004, when a mountain guide and museum director named Maurizio Vicenzi (pictured) found something not for those with weak stomachs…

Maurizo found three mummified Austrian soldiers, hanging upside down out of an ice wall 12,000 feet above sea level. They had no weapons but carried bandages in their pockets. Since then, more and more skeletons have been found in the Italian Alps.

Museo della Grande Guerra, Peio

It was as if everything that had happened during that battle was left behind and forgotten. Over 80 skeletons turned up on mountainsides. Memories of the war laid, well-preserved, in the ice for over a century.

Stefano Torrione / National Geographic-Italia

Further digging and research revealed the fallen soldiers themselves weren’t the only artifacts waiting underneath the ice. Archeologists also uncovered secrets hidden within the mountains themselves…

Museo Storico Italiano Della Guerra Di Rovereto

Melting snow and plenty of digging revealed complex tunnel systems boring right into the side of the mountains. This one had been dug by Austrian soldiers to facilitate movement atop the dangerous mountainside.

Laura Spinney

Over time, researchers found more and more from the fighting. In a cableway station, old ripped documents and faded photographs adorned the walls. They offered a real glimpse into the past—one that didn’t end there.

Laura Spinney

Researchers also recovered many smaller objects that the soldiers left behind. These included items like a framed mirror holding a photograph, letters, playing cards, preserved food, and an oil lamp.

Stefano Torrione / National Geographic-Italia

In the Corno di Cavento garrison—an Austrian military post carved directly into the mountain—archeologists actually found an old grenade shell that’d been repurposed as a lamp!

Stefano Torrione / National Geographic-Italia

The White War Museum in Peio, Italy, already housed plenty of objects from the fearsome mountain battles, but it seemed as if, year after year, it welcomed new and important finds into its midst.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/history/world-war-one/10562017/Melting-glaciers-in-northern-Italy-reveal-corpses-of-WW1-soldiers.html

There was no way for archeologists to ever truly know how many more men were lying under the ice until more digging could take place. In the meantime, each and every skeleton found was treated to a respectful military funeral.

Laura Spinney

It’s incredible to think how much history has been waiting to be found on that mountain for so many years. What else might be revealed by a melting glacier?

Share these melting glacier discoveries with your friends below!