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The melting glacier reveals World War I shelter and artifacts

During the war, the cave shelter housed 20 Austrian soldiers stationed on Mount Scorluzzo on the Alpine front, near the famous Stelvio Pass, historian Stefano Morosini told CNN.

While people knew the shelter existed, researchers were only able to enter it in 2017 because the surrounding glacier had melted, added Morosini, who is the scientific coordinator of the heritage project at Stelvio National Park and teaches at the University of Bergamo.

They found food, dishes and jackets made of animal skins inside, among many other items, he said.

The artifacts illustrate the “very bad daily life”

; of soldiers who had to deal with “extreme environmental conditions,” Morosini said. Winter temperatures could drop to -40 degrees Celsius (-40 degrees Fahrenheit), he added.

“Soldiers had to fight the extreme environment, fight snow or avalanches, but also fight the enemy,” Morosini said.

“The artifacts are a representation, like a time machine, of … the extreme living conditions of the First World War,” he said, adding that more objects appear in the area each summer as the glacier melts.

“It’s kind of like an open-air museum,” said Morosini, who said the bodies of two soldiers were found five years ago, along with documents that allowed them to be identified and the remains given to their families.

The cave shelter houses Austrian soldiers stationed on Mount Scorluzzo.
Various items were found, including bottles and tin cans.

The artifacts from the cave shelter are preserved and will be part of the collection, which should open at the end of 2022 in a museum dedicated to the First World War in the northern Italian city of Bormio, Morosini said.

The shelter was occupied during the first days of the war by Austrian troops, who made it completely invisible from the Italian side or from aerial surveillance, said a statement from the White Military Museum, located in Adamelo, northern Italy.

It is located at an altitude of 3,094 meters (10,151 feet), just below the top of Mount Scorluzzo, and excavations have been carried out every July and August since 2017, removing about 60 cubic meters of ice from the cave.

The view of the Stelvio Glacier from Mount Scorluzzo.

A total of 300 items were recovered, including straw mattresses, coins, helmets, ammunition and newspapers.

“The finds in the cave of Mount Scorluzzo give us, after more than a hundred years, a piece of life at over 3,000 meters above sea level, where time stopped on November 3, 1918, when the last Austrian soldier closed the door and rushed down,” reads the press release. museum.

CNN’s Hada Messia contributed to this report.

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