Frozen Pasts

Glacial Archaeology in the Alps


In the course of the 4th International Glacial Archeology Symposium Frozen Pasts, the Institute for Archeology of the University of Innsbruck presented an exhibition of the same name at the Center for Ancient Cultures at the Langer Weg 11 from 12 October to 30 November 2016. Objects from glacial regions in Salzburg, Carinthia, Tyrol and Switzerland were on display. The finds date from the 14th to the middle of the 20th century. A notched piece of wood from the Vorderes Umbaltörl in East Tyrol even dates to the Iron Age (724-400 BC).

Der Ausstellungsraum in Zentrum für Alte Kulturen, Langer Weg 11

The exhibition room in the Center for Ancient Cultures, Langer Weg 11



In the arrangement of the exhibition special attention was paid to artefacts made of organic materials such as wood, leather and textile. Objects from these materials usually decay, and are therefore rarely found in archaeological findings. In the ice and snow of the glaciers, however, they are often well preserved. There were numerous fragments of garment (parts of hose, shirts, doublets and shoes) from high altitude gold mining areas in Carinthia and Salzburg, coarse materials (probably bags) and tools made of wood and iron. Beside the piece of wood from the Iron Age, these finds were the oldest objects in the exhibition, dating from the 14th to the 16th century.

From around the year 1690 were garments and personal effects of a woman who died on the Porchabella Glacier in Graubünden in Switzerland. The finds were recovered between 1988 and 1992. The objects came from the Kantonsarchäologie Graubünden as a loan to Innsbruck.( kAltes Eis A monitoring and awareness program for ice sites in Graubünden).

Further finds came from East Tyrol, like the few recovered belongings and the rifle of the poacher Norbert Mattersberger, who had been missing since 1839 and whose corpse was found on the Gradetz Glacier in 1929. Parts of a Junkers Ju 52 of the German Armed Forces that had to perform an emergency landing on the Umbal Glacier in 1941 emerged in the summer 2000 around 600 m below the emergency landing site. Exhibits were mainly objects from the personal possession of the crew like a sock, a toothbrush and a small perfume bottle.

Fundstücke vom Umbalkees in Osttirol

Finds from Umbal Glacier in East Tyrol



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