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Melting Glaciers Have Exposed Frozen Relics of World War I

As glaciers melt and shrink in the Alps of Northern Italy, long-frozen relics of World War I have been emerging from the ice.

They include cups, cans, letters, weapons and bones with the marrow sucked dry. They were found in cave barracks not far from the frigid summit of Mount Scorluzzo, which reaches more than 10,000 feet over sea level in Northern Italy, near Switzerland.

The Austro-Hungarian soldiers who occupied those barracks were fighting Italian troops in what became known as the White War. There in the Alps — removed from the more famous Western Front, a site of bloody trench warfare between Germany and France — troops climbed to precarious heights in the stinging cold to carve fortifications into the rock and snow.

The weather that tested the troops on Mount Scorluzzo ultimately preserved their barracks, freezing the entrance shut after soldiers abandoned their post at the end of the war in 1918. The structure was essentially impenetrable for decades — until 2017, when enough of the ice and snow had melted, allowing researchers to enter.

Now, after a yearslong project led by The White War Museum in Adamello, the barracks have been excavated, revealing the items that were left behind and offering a fuller glimpse of the people who lived in the cramped space more than a century ago.

The barracks, in Stelvio National Park, are “sort of a time machine,” said Stefano Morosini, a historian who coordinates heritage projects for the park and is a professor at the University of Bergamo in Italy.

“We are interested not only in a historical way, but also in a scientific way,” he added. “How was the pollution? How were the epidemiological conditions in the barracks? How did the soldiers sleep, and how did they suffer? What did they eat?”

Many of the artifacts will eventually be shown at a museum that is expected to open next year in the town of Bormio, Mr. Morosini said. Workers at the White War Museum, which is in nearby Temù, are working to restore the relics found in the barracks.

Read entire article at New York Times