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.

Trentino, Italy, is one of these places that is changing every day. 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.

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Since 2004, those glaciers have been slowly melting, and as they do, they reveal the bodies of soldiers who have been lying in the ice for 100 years. 

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The first discovery was made over a decade ago when archeologists spotted the skeletons of three Austrian soldiers buried in the snow.

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More than 150,000 men died on this mountaintop battleground during the war, many of them succumbing to avalanches, frostbite, and illness. Since 2004, over 80 skeletons have been found. 

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The men themselves weren’t the only artifacts waiting under the ice: archeologists also uncovered complex tunnels that the soldiers had built right into the mountainside.

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Over time, researchers have also recovered many smaller objects the soldiers left behind, like photos, letters, playing cards, and even food that was preserved in the cold. 

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The challenge now is keeping these artifacts and remains safe from looters who might want to sell them for their own financial gain.

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Archeologists don’t know how many more men may lie under the ice, but they’re determined to honor each and every one with a respectful military funeral after they’re found.

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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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