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Frozen secrets Historical wonders trapped in glaciers

Melting glaciers are bringing new discoveries to light. The project "kAltes Eis" systematically scans melting ice fields in canton Grabünden for possible archaeological wonders. (SRF Tagesschau/

The kAltes Eis programme, promoted by the institute for research into Graubünden’s culture, involves archaeologists as well as hikers and alpinists in the search for artefacts that are now being revealed as the glaciers retreat.

As glaciers and ice patches are melting at an increased rate, there is a time window of one or two decades when artefacts are revealed but not washed away.

The project was initiated by Leandra Naef in October 2013 after she graduated from the University of Zurich with a Master’s degree in Prehistoric Archaeology.

Apart from discovering artefacts, the aim of the project is to identify the most interesting ice patches in the canton so that its archaeological service can then monitor these sites.

To increase the probability of finding well preserved artefacts, the kAltes Eis programme uses a modified GIS-based (Geographic Information Systems) forecasting model first developed by archaeologists in Alaska.

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