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Archaeology in Valais glaciers and passes

The fact


The accelerated melting of glaciers in the Alps is freeing up many archaeological relics which have demonstrated the use of high altitude passes since prehistoric times. There is an urgency to collect and conserve these archaeological findings as most objects consist of perishable material and, once exposed to the environment, rapidly degrade and decompose.

The disappearance of this prehistoric and/or historic material is an inestimable loss which would impede the understanding of how people have used these glaciated high altitude passages throughout history.

! Do Not Touch the Remains !



The IceWatcher application (iOS, Android) for mobile phones makes it possible to document glacial finds, adopting good practices and informing the Cantonal Archeology Office of Valais as soon as possible.

Scientific Projects


Sponsored by the Swiss National Science Foundation, the Canton of Valais and the University of Fribourg, the goal of a 4 years project (2011-2014) was to locate areas with the highest potential for discovering archaeological items at high altitude passes (3’000 to 3’500 m asl) in the Pennine Alps.

This mountain range, located between the Canton of Valais in Switzerland and Italy, is one of the most glaciated territories of the whole alpine arc. The methods used in the SNF research project included a historical archival text analysis, geospatial modelling and archaeological prospection in the field.



12.06.2021 – 05.12.2021

Musée de Préhistoire d’Île-de-France (Nemours, France)

Temporary Exhibition « Ice Memory »