Skip to main content

Century-old photo negatives found in Antarctic explorer's hut

By Ralph Ellis, CNN
updated 11:46 AM EST, Sun December 29, 2013
Photographic negatives left a century ago at an expedition base at Cape Evans, Antarctica, were discovered and conserved by New Zealand's Antarctic Heritage Trust on December 10. Photographic negatives left a century ago at an expedition base at Cape Evans, Antarctica, were discovered and conserved by New Zealand's Antarctic Heritage Trust on December 10.
HIDE CAPTION
Antarctic expedition photos found
Antarctic expedition photos found
Antarctic expedition photos found
Antarctic expedition photos found
Antarctic expedition photos found
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Negatives discovered in explorer Robert Scott's 1912 expedition hut
  • Photos taken during Ernest Shackleton's 1914-1917 Ross Sea Party
  • Some of Shackleton's group stayed in the hut when ship blew out to sea
  • New Zealand's Antarctic Heritage Trust announces the find

(CNN) -- While a Russian-flagged vessel remains stuck in Antarctic ice, recently discovered photo negatives remind us this cold continent has been stopping explorers in their tracks for a century.

New Zealand's Antarctic Heritage Trust found the negatives in an expedition hut from Capt. Robert Falcon Scott's failed 1912 quest to become the first man to reach the South Pole.

The photos were taken during Ernest Shackleton's 1914-1917 Ross Sea Party, another failed exploration whose members were forced to live in Scott's hut after their ship blew out to sea.

The cellulose nitrate negatives were found clumped together in a small box in the darkroom of Herbert Ponting, Scott's expedition photographer, the trust said. The trust took the negatives to New Zealand, where they were separated to reveal 22 images.

Ship stuck in Antarctica awaits rescue

Many images were damaged, but the trust says it was able to recognize landmarks around McMurdo Sound. It's unknown who took the photos.

Scott was a British explorer who became famous during what historians call the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration. He arrived at the South Pole in January 1912 to discover his rival, Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, had beaten him to the spot by an estimated 33 days.

Scott and several comrades died in March 1912 during the return journey.

Several years later, Shackleton attempted the first land crossing of Antarctica from the Weddell Sea to the Ross Sea via the South Pole, according to the Museum Victoria website.

Ten members of the group were stranded when their ship, the Aurora, blew out to sea and they were forced to live in Scott's hut. Three men died before they were rescued in 1916.

Nigel Watson, Antarctic Heritage Trust's executive director, said the new photos are a historic treasure.

"It's an exciting find and we are delighted to see them exposed after a century," Watson said.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 9:54 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
A decade on from devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the Red Cross' Matthias Schmale says that the lessons learned have made us safer.
updated 7:24 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
As soon as word broke that "The Interview" will hit some theaters, celebrations erupted across social media -- including from the stars of the film.
updated 1:44 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Did a rogue hacker -- or the U.S. government -- cut the cord for the regime's Internet?
updated 8:06 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Monaco's newborn royals, Princess Gabriella and Crown Prince Jacques Honore Rainier, posed for their first official photos with their parents.
updated 12:06 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Tim Berners-Lee, the man credited with inventing the world wide web, gives a speech on April 18, 2012 in Lyon, central France, during the World Wide Web 2012 international conference on April 18, 2012 in Lyon.
What's next for the Internet? Acclaimed scientist Sir Tim Berners-Lee shares his insights.
updated 3:22 AM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
The United States and North Korea have long been locked in a bitter cycle of escalating and deescalating tensions. But the current cyber conflict may be especially hard to predict.
updated 4:00 PM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
A chilling video shows Boko Haram executing dozens of non-Muslims.
updated 6:34 AM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
New planes, new flight tests ... but will we get cheaper airfares?
updated 12:46 PM EST, Sun December 21, 2014
The killing of two cops could not have happened at a worse time for a city embroiled in a public battle over police-community relations, Errol Louis says.
updated 9:51 PM EST, Sun December 21, 2014
The gateway to Japan's capital, Tokyo Station, is celebrating its centennial this month -- and it has never looked better.
updated 11:21 AM EST, Sat December 20, 2014
Unicef has warned that more than 1.7 million children in conflict-torn areas of eastern Ukraine face an "extremely serious" situation.
updated 12:01 PM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT