Secrets of the ice: unlocking a melting time capsule


As the Earth’s ice melts, large numbers of perfectly preserved ancient artefacts are being revealed. But time is running out and ‘glacial archaeologists’ are racing to find these fragile treasures

Back in August 2018, archaeologists William Taylor and Nick Jarman were scrambling around a snowy, scree-strewn slope in the Altai mountains in northwest Mongolia at the end of an exhausting day. A few hundred metres above Jarman, Taylor and his colleagues were surveying the site, a disappearing ice field that local reindeer herders said had not melted in living memory. Now, each summer, it disappears almost completely.

Taylor looked down the mountain and saw his methodical colleague dancing and hollering, hopping from rock to rock. Thinking he was injured, Taylor headed down the mountain.

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