All over the planet, rising temperatures are causing glaciers to disappear at an alarming rate. As they melt, they change the face of an entire terrain, and sometimes that means revealing long-hidden secrets buried under the ice.
Sadly, Trentino, Italy is one of these places that seems to be drastically changing for the worse on a daily basis.
Nestled among the Alps, this province boasts breathtaking scenery, but like many places in Europe, it also has a tragic past…
During World War I, the most elite Italian soldiers were trained to battle their Austrian and German enemies in freezing conditions. For three years, they would make camp in these mountains at elevations as high as 6,500 feet in what became known as the White War.
Since 2004, those glaciers have been slowly melting as a result of global warming. As these massive chunks of ice continue to melt, much to the shock of the public, they reveal the bodies of fallen soldiers whose bodies have been lying in the ice for upwards of 100 years.
It was as if everything that had happened during that battle was left behind and forgotten. The first of these grim discoveries was made roughly more than a decade ago when archeologists spotted the skeletons of three Austrian soldiers buried below the surface of the snow.
Further research showed that more than 150,000 men had lost their lives on this mountaintop battleground during the war, many of them succumbing to various elements, like avalanches, frostbite, and illnesses. Since 2004, over 80 skeletons have been discovered.
As it was later revealed, the fallen soldiers themselves weren’t the only artifacts waiting underneath the ice. Further digging by the archeologists also uncovered complex tunnels that the soldiers had built right into the mountainside. They couldn’t believe what they’d found.
Over time, researchers put more an more effort into studying this site, and have also recovered many smaller objects that the soldiers left behind. These included items like photos, letters, playing cards, and even food that was preserved in the cold. They were getting a real glimpse into the past.
Now the challenge that the archaeologists face is keeping these artifacts safe and away from looters who might want to sell them for their own financial gain. The preservation of such items is integral to understanding the way these soldiers lived during such a fierce battle.
There’s no way for archeologists to ever truly know how many more men may lie under the ice until more digging can take place. They’ve made one thing clear, though: they’re determined to honor each and every one that they do find with a respectful military funeral.
It’s incredible to think how much history has been waiting to be found on that mountain for so many years.
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