Conservators with the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust recently announced a remarkable discovery: 22 unprocessed photo negatives that they believe belonged to the Ross Sea party, a part of Sir Ernest Shackleton's Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition from the so-called "heroic age of antarctic exploration."
The photos were frozen together in a block of ice, and recovered from a supply hut that was established by Captain Robert Falcon Scott at Cape Evans on the west side of Antarctica's Ross Island. Although many of the negatives were damaged, experts in Wellington were able to restore them, revealing never-before-seen images of the failed expedition.
The members of the Ross Sea party were attempting to aid Shackleton in the first land crossing of Antarctica from Weddell Sea to the Ross Sea via the South Pole in 1914. Ten of them were stranded on land when their ship blew out to sea, and were forced to live in a hut which had been built several years earlier on a different expedition. By January 1917, the men were rescued — although three of them had died in the intervening years. Among the dead was Arnold Patrick Spencer-Smith, the team's photographer, although it's not known whether he took the pictures, nor the exact date of when they were taken.
Antarctic Heritage Trust executive director Nigel Watson told Imaging Resource, "it's the first example that I'm aware of, of undeveloped negatives from a century ago from the Antarctic heroic era."
For more on the Ross Sea party, see the State Library of Victoria website.
Via Discovery News