Frozen 100-Year-Old Negatives Discovered In A Block Of Ice in Antarctica

Conservators of the New Zealand Antartic Heritage Trust were restoring one of the exploration huts in Antarctica when they discovered a box that held a remarkable treasure.

Contained in the box were 100-year-old cellulose nitrate negatives documenting the life of Antarctic explorers a century ago. These never-before-seen negatives were preserved in a block of ice.

The restoration process proved to be a tedious task. After being frozen for a century, the negatives were clumped together and had to be first gently separated from one another. Next came the cleaning and the removing of mold before consolidating the cellulose image layers.

100-year-old negatives 1

nzaht.org

Examining the negatives. After such a painstaking process, the negatives were finally produced into digital positives, allowing us to take a historic look on the heroic era of Antarctic exploration (1895 – 1917).

100-year-old-negatives-11

nzaht.org

According to the Trust, “The photographs are from Ernest Shackleton’s Ross Sea Party (1914-1917), which spent time living in Scott’s hut after being stranded on Ross Island when their ship blew out to sea. Their role was to lay vital depots for Shackleton’s expedition, which was to cross the continent from the Weddell Sea.”

100-year-old negatives 2

nzaht.org

Chief scientist and geologist Alexander Stevens on Aurora deck.

100-year-old negatives 3

nzaht.org

Iceberg in Ross Island

100-year-old negatives 4

nzaht.org

Alexander Stevens on the Aurora.

100-year-old negatives 5

nzaht.org

Big Razorback Island, McMurdo Sound

100-year-old negatives 6

nzaht.org

Snowy landscape, McMurdo Sound

100-year-old-negatives-9

nzaht.org

Sea and glacier, McMurdo Sound

100-year-old-negatives-10

nzaht.org

Sea ice afloat in the sea, McMurdo Sound

100-year-old-negatives-13

nzaht.org

Tent Island, McMurdo Sound

100-year-old-negatives-14

nzaht.org

White Island, McMurdo Ice Shelf

100-year-old-negatives-8

nzaht.org

Looking south along Hut Point Peninsula

100-year-old negatives 7

nzaht.org

Sea, sky, and landscape

100-year-old-negatives-12

nzaht.org

Mt Erebus, Ross Island from the West

100-year-old-negatives-15

nzaht.org

The identity of the photographer remains unknown, but is thought to be the expedition photographer Arnold Spencer-Smith.

Credit: Antartic Heritage Trust

SHARE this with your friends by clicking below!