A collection of century-old photographs, which remained undeveloped inside an abandoned hut in Antarctica for nearly 100 years, were recently recovered and processed. The images depict scenes and people from a failed 1915 Antarctic expedition during which a team of explorers became stranded in the harsh polar landscape after their ship blew out to sea.
The 22 negatives were clumped together in a small box that was preserved in ice.
Members of the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust, who traveled to Antarctica’s Ross Island to refurbish and preserve an early 20th-century explorer’s hut, discovered the cellulose nitrate negatives and were able to develop the images.
Despite having been hidden in ice for 98 years, the lost negatives were fairly well preserved, according to Wired. The images show Ross Island as it was a century ago, and even depict the expedition’s main scientist, Alexander Stevens.
"It's an exciting find and we are delighted to see them exposed after a century," Nigel Watson, Antarctic Heritage Trust's executive director, told CNN.
The hut in which the lost Antarctica photos were discovered actually belonged to an earlier explorer, Captain Robert Falcon Scott, who arrived in the South Pole in 1912. According to Liberty Voice, Scott had established a series of supply depots across the Antarctic landscape. Scott and his team eventually perished in Antarctica from a combination of extreme cold and starvation.
A few years later, another team of explorers that included Stevens and renowned polar explorer Ernest Shackleton used the hut for shelter after their ship, the Aurora, became unhinged and floated out to sea. Their team, known as the Ross Sea Party, originally set out from New Zealand to explore Antarctica and to establish equipment stations. They remained in Antarctica from 1914 to 1917. The lost photos were taken during that time.
New Zealand’s Antarctic Heritage Trust processed the negatives as part of its Ross Sea Heritage Restoration Project.
"It's the first example that I'm aware of, of undeveloped negatives from a century ago from the Antarctic heroic era,” Antarctic Heritage Trust Executive Director Nigel Watson told Peta Pixel. “There's a paucity of images from that expedition."
You can see some of the lost Antarctica photos here.