About Mummy Tombs

Bodies from the Ice:

Melting Glaciers and the Recovery of the Past

Bodies from the Ice tells the story of Earth's melting alpine glaciers and the recent archaeological discoveries made there.

In 1991 a husband and wife climbing a mountain in northern Italy stumbled across what appeared to be trash left by careless hikers. On closer inspection they realized that it was a human corpse lying near the surface of a melting alpine glacier. Ultimately, scientific study revealed that the man had lived 5,300 years earlier. Now known as Ötzi, he is one of the most important archaeological discoveries ever made.

All around the world, from South America’s Andes Mountains to the European Alps to Asia’s Himalayas, glaciers are rapidly melting. Their disappearing ice uncovers not only the rocky terrain that has lain beneath for thousands of years, but also the long-hidden bodies of people who died in the glaciers. They may have been hunters, soldiers, shepherds, mountain climbers, dairymaids, or unfortunate travelers, and sometimes children. As their bodies are revealed, scientists study them to learn more information about the earth’s past. But what will happen if our grinding, gliding glaciers disappear altogether?

Reviews and Honors

School Library Journal (December 2008),*starred review           

"Deem’s lucid account explores mummified remains recovered from several glacial locations and time periods. The many discoveries presented include the famous 5300-year-old Alpine Iceman Ötzi, the mummified Incan children of the Andes Mountains, and the identification of George Mallory’s body on Mount Everest. The background and methodology of glaciology are examined, as are relevant issues in climate change and archaeology; historical photographs of glaciers are compared to modern photographs of the same, much-receded ice. Full-color photographs, reproductions, and maps are clearly captioned; grand images of glaciated mountain peaks span entire pages, and detailed pictures of recovered objects, including the mummies themselves, the Iceman’s ax, and surviving fabric fragments are presented.... Deem superbly weaves diverse geographical settings, time periods, and climate issues into a readable work that reveals the increasing interdisciplinary dimensions of the sciences."

2009 Robert F. Sibert Informational Award Honor Book

Kirkus Reviews' Best Children's Books of 2008

With sweeping mountain vistas, vintage images of early climbers, and a quiet respect for the lives that are being uncovered and studied by scientists all over the world, acclaimed author James M. Deem takes the reader on an icy and epic adventure. He uncovers the magic lore of glaciers themselves, sharing stories of pioneering female climbers and early Mount Everest enthusiasts, and even stories of the glaciers themselves, at one point considered to be a creation of the devil devised to punish sinners, full of dragons and witches . . .




Chapter 1. Iceman of the Alps

The discovery of the glacier corpse that came to be known as Ötzi the Iceman

Chapter 2. Grinding, Gliding Glaciers

The search for an explanation: if glaciers pulverize most of the people who die in them, why did Ötzi remain whole after 5300 years?

Chapter 3. Dragons in the Ice

The story behind Europe's alpine glaciers and how they were considered the work of the devil until scientists began to study them, sometimes with tragic consequences

Chapter 4. Frozen Children of the Andes

The melting glaciers of the Andes have revealed the frozen bodies of Incan children, sacrificed to appease their gods 

Chapter 5. The Mystery of Mallory

The tragic story of George Mallory to be the first man to reach the top of glacier-covered Mount Everest: did he succeed or not? The discovery of his body near the summit some 75 years after his attempt provided some answers to the puzzle.

Chapter 6. Another Man from a Glacier

The most dramatic glacier discovery in North America was the body of a man now called Kwäday Dan Ts’ìnchí who was found along the melting edge of a Canadian glacier


You can find more information about this book on on my author website.