Italy’s Melting Glaciers Contain the Preserved Bodies of WWI Soldiers

They were casualties of the White War, which is not actually a Game of Thrones episode.

  • Share
  • Read Later
De Agostini / Getty Images

The Adamello Massif and Paghera stream, Paghera Valley, Lombardy, Italy.

In one of the strangest consequences of global warming yet, glaciers far north in the Italian Alps are slowly melting to reveal the frozen corpses of soldiers killed during World War I.

How did the ice-preserved bodies get to the small Alpine village of Peio? They were casualties of the White War, an obscure part of WWI. In May 1915, a newly united Italy decided to join the war on the side of the Allies, opening up a front on the northern border of the country which abutted the enemy Hapsburgs, part of the Central Powers. Far up in the mountains at elevations of over 6,500 feet, Italian troops called the Alpini fought their Austrian equivalent, the Kaiserschützen, with specialized weapons and infrastructure like ice trenches and cable transport systems.

As global warming has intensified over the past few decades, first soldiers’ personal affects like diaries and letters melted out of the ice, and now their bodies are following. The cold has kept them perfectly intact, like frozen mummies. Bare bones are wrapped in the tattered remains of uniforms, gruesome reminders of now-distant violence. In one terrifying photo, three Hapsburg soldiers, skulls exposed to the elements, are tangled in the ice. The trio is now buried in the Peio cemetery.

Archaeologists are continuing to explore the Alpine battlegrounds, uncovering man-made caves and artifacts like engines and guns. Thankfully, none of the uncovered bodies have turned into White Walkers—yet.

90 comments
WayneR.Douglas
WayneR.Douglas

Not really sure what you people are bitching about. First off, who cares about some stupid reference to some stupid game or book or whatever?   Next, this crap happened a long time ago.   Sure, WW1 was a bad time in history.   Any war, where thousands of lives are lost, is not a good thing in human eyes.   Had it not been for WW1 and WW2, this earth would already be so overpopulated, there would not be enough food for everyone.   War is nature's way of thinning the heard.   Ok, so men died.   Women never knew where their men died, nor where their bodies were.   The only difference these days, is that there are far fewer men and women dying in war, just because war has become safer for the guys with the upper hand.    Let it go people.

JimRichardson
JimRichardson

Oh come on Kyle, surely you could be more vapid if you tried!
 You've managed to turn what was an otherwise interesting story to an insult to the memories of real humans who died in yet another stupid pointless war.
I might expect this kind of irreverence out of the Onion or some other satire site but from Time? Who is editing this dreck?

DavidJ.Stuehr
DavidJ.Stuehr

I do not think that a 12 year old will be reading this so why all the pop-culture BS? Why insult the memories and legacy of fallen soldiers with childish zombie and video game references. GTFU!!

JackJack
JackJack

Jesus H, why the TV and game references?! Pop culture makes you stupid. If you insist on being stupid - get another job, please! No more clicks for Time from me..

effyoutime
effyoutime

Eff you Time !  My grandfather fought there from 1917-1918 and he lived to tell me all about it.  You don't know sheet.  And adding stupid video game and globull warming comments.  Morons.

ScottGSlanda
ScottGSlanda

Yep, it's entirely the fault of global warming.
It has nothing to do with the fact that over 100 years the glacier has flowed downhill to a warmer area.

monterado1
monterado1

History is us, be careful, nobody should feel excluded.

monterado1
monterado1

La Storia siamo noi, attenzione, nessuno si senta escluso.

CFWard57
CFWard57

As for the callous comment at the end ... this isn't a game and these aren't cyber people. They were real men whose lives were precious to them, who had loved ones and dreams and hopes for the future. Their families were denied the knowledge of how and when they died and where their bodies lay. What a terrible tragedy for all concerned. 


CFWard57
CFWard57

Good Lord, what happened to editors? It's NOT "personal affects", but "personal effects". 


As for the story, I had never heard of this battle before. What a horrible fate for so many young men, 

duane.weaver16
duane.weaver16

So basically the glacier is back to where it was 100 years ago.  It makes you think.

DerekHuey
DerekHuey

@duane.weaver16 The glacier has descended. It formed at a higher elevation and descended via plastic flows or higher-than-sustainable temperatures. It couldn't possibly be "back" to where it was. If you meant it's "back to the size" that it was, sure that might be true, but that just means it has melted. (Due to lower elevation higher temperatures resulting from the movement caused by plastic flows, or just the general increase in temperature)


The world is warming. It's a fact. The reason is hotly debated, but to think this is some kind of sign that we're back to where we were 100 years ago is completely unreasonable.

TheDers
TheDers

i dont watch Game of Thrones and dont plan on it. sucks that i have too. if i want to understand Time magazine authors.

JenniAnthony-Call
JenniAnthony-Call

How absolutely disgusting for the AUTHOR to leave such a heartless remark at the conclusion.  BAD FORM BAD FORM!~!

Heisenblergh
Heisenblergh

@JenniAnthony-Call relax. they referenced Game of Thrones. A fictional story. Yeesh. Have a sense of humor.

CFWard57
CFWard57

@Heisenblergh -- Sorry, I don't see the humor in the author's reference to a fantasy series when talking about the horrible, violent deaths of real people. It was completely inappropriate. 

noratom
noratom

can't believe how many people have nothing better to do than to make comments about a stupid article to try and make themselves sound educated and superior.  get a life ya' all

wradisch
wradisch

@noratom At least they're commenting about the article; after all, that's what the 'Comments' section is (supposed to be) for.

Faisal
Faisal

That's why you had better to talk less but say more. The artical is ended uneducatedly.

dzazon
dzazon

oh shocks! did i not drnk water from the fountains on the streets of italy last year?

iron_thor
iron_thor

Author should learn to have the utmost respect for those who fought and died in the war.  Do you think there lives were a joke?. This is absolutely appalling to read, this is not a piece of science fiction!.


- From a U.S Citizen.

noratom
noratom

@iron_thor its their, not there, if you are going to criticize at least use correct grammar 

wradisch
wradisch

@noratom @iron_thor  It's (a contraction), not, its (a possessive). The "i" should be capitalized, also. You should have written this as two sentences: the first ending after "there", with the second beginning at "if". You left off the period, as well.

WilfTarquin
WilfTarquin

@iron_thor Oh spare me the faux indignation. You do not care one whit about the dead of an obscure World War I battle between Italy and Austria.

ValerieO'Gilain
ValerieO'Gilain

@WilfTarquin @iron_thor  The fact that you, WilfTarquin, are not able to empathize with people separated from you by time, place, nationality and / or  circumstance does not mean that other people are equally hard hearted.  

These were real people who died horribly in a frozen hellscape leaving families without closure.  The battle wasn't obscure to them, and if you are actually a human capable of empathy, you can imagine yourself in their shoes.  

(And screw Time for its oh-so-hip zombie reference - remember when you guys used to be a serious news organization?  Try to channel that next time.).