from the


Melting Glaciers and the Recovery of the Past


Bodies from the Ice: Melting Glaciers and the Recovery of the Past. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2008.

Illustrated in color and black-and-white with over 65 photographs, many of them rare. For ages 8 to adult. Published by Houghton Mifflin.


Excerpt from Chapter 1:

Bodies from the Ice: Melting Glaciers

and the Recovery of the Past

On the morning of September 18, 1991, while on vacation in northern Italy, Erika The stone monument near the site of Ötzi's discovery (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)and Helmut Simon decided to climb the Similaun, a 12,000-foot-high mountain near the Austrian border. They had scaled the peak once before, in 1981, but this time the journey would be much more challenging.

To reach the summit, Snowfall had been lighter, and summer temperatures had been higher. Not only did the new snow melt each summer, but the once-permanent glacier ice thawed as well.

By 1991, after an especially warm summer, the glacier that remained, which may have been more than sixty feet deep in the 1920s, was only three feet deep in some places and quite slushy in the heat. Still, wide gaps or fissures in the ice, called crevasses, sliced deeply through other areas. One misstep and the Simons could easily fall into a crevasse and be gravely, even fatally, injured. As a result, they climbed cautiously, taking much longer to reach the summit than they expected.

When they were ready to return to their hotel in the valley below, it was almost dark and too dangerous to continue their descent. Forced to spend the night in a mountain lodge, they were not happy about their rustic accommodations; they had no running water or indoor toilet. The next day, though, they would learn how truly lucky they were: The melting of the Niederjoch Glacier allowed them to make one of the most important archaeological discoveries of all time....

Copyright © James M. Deem This excerpt is taken from Bodies from the Ice: Melting Glaciers and the Recover of the Past (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2012). All rights reserved.