If you hold a strong interest in the history of Antarctic exploration, you’ll undoubtedly find astonishment in this revelation: a collection of century-old photographic negatives encased within a block of ice in Antarctica. These negatives were captured by individuals belonging to the Ross Sea Party, a team of explorers who were integral to Ernest Shackleton’s ambitious endeavor to traverse the Antarctic continent between 1915 and 1917.
The primary mission of the Ross Sea Party was to establish supply depots for Shackleton’s crew, who were making their way from the opposite side of Antarctica. However, their vessel, the Aurora, was swept away by a storm, leaving them stranded at Cape Evans. Enduring severe conditions for over a year, they utilized one of the huts constructed during Robert Falcon Scott’s earlier expedition to survive. Regrettably, three members lost their lives during this ordeal.
In 2013, during the restoration of Scott’s hut, conservators from the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust (NZAHT) stumbled upon the negatives. Nestled within a compact box encased in ice, the negatives were meticulously thawed and processed by a photography conservator in Wellington. This process unveiled a collection of 22 images, depicting the Ross Sea Party members, their activities, and their surroundings.