Cool Archaeological Site Found Due to Retreating Glacier

Researchers race clock to study WWI barracks cavern
By Liz MacGahan,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 16, 2021 5:16 PM CST
Updated Nov 20, 2021 5:05 PM CST
Cool Archaeological Site Found Due to Retreating Glacier
File photo of the aerial view of the road leading to the Stelvio Pass in Northern Italy.   (Marco Alpozzi/LaPresse via AP)

Sure, it’s cool. A cave in the Italian Alps that sheltered soldiers during World War I is full of interesting archaeological treasures. It’s like a time capsule. The objects recovered—straw mattresses, helmets, newspapers—were found thanks to climate change. The cavern barracks was “literally frozen in time,” historian Giovanni Cadioli told the Washington Post. But the glacier it was buried in has retreated, exposing the artificial caves blasted into existence in 1915. A similar barracks discovered in 2017 has already been explored and in late 2022 it will be a museum, CNN reports. Seeds found there were planted and have already blossomed.

Cadioli, a researcher at the University of Padua in Italy, discovered the site last year with a colleague. The retreat of the glacier exposes the site for archaeologists—and nature. Cadioli’s excitement is tempered with concern. "We have an opportunity but it is an opportunity that must be grasped very quickly," he told the Telegraph. Things like clothing, books, wood, and leather will decompose in light and water. The most pressing task for researchers is to preserve anything organic preserved by the ice. Cadioli, talking to the Post while, on the other side of Europe, world leaders met for a climate summit in Glasgow, said, "We’d really rather not have retreating glaciers." (More strange stuff stories.)

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