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Century-old notebook reveals details of ill-fated Antarctic expedition

"It’s an exciting find," Nigel Watson said.

By
Brooks Hays
A notebook frozen in ice for 100 years. (New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust)
A notebook frozen in ice for 100 years. (New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust)

WELLINGTON, New Zealand, Oct. 27 (UPI) -- On a recent expedition to the South Pole, conservationists located a notebook that has been frozen in ice for a century. The 100-year-old photography notebook belonged to George Murray Levick, a British surgeon, zoologist and photographer who joined Captain Robert Falcon Scott on his expedition to Antarctica from 1910 to 1913.

The notebook, which was apparently left behind at the expedition's last base camp at Cape Evans, offers historians new details about Scott and his fellow explorers. Levick journeyed to Anatarctica with Scott in 1910, but the team of explorers split into two groups not long after their arrival.

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Scott led a team in search of the South Pole, while Levick was a member of a team that explored the coast, observing the wildlife. Levick's group was stranded in the winter of 1912, when they were unable to be picked up by their boat. The men survived, keeping warm by digging an ice cave and sustaining themselves on penguins and seals.

Scott's group wasn't as lucky. His men reached the South Pole January 17, 1912, only to learn that they'd been bested by Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, whose team had claimed the accolade a month prior. Running low on both rations and morale, Scott and his companions died on their return -- stranded and starved by a massive blizzard.

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Though Levick's journal doesn't offer a direct account of the last days of Captain Scott's demise, it doesn't offer new details into the nature of the overall expedition.

Now restored, the journal will be added to New Zealand's Antarctic Heritage Trust collection, which includes the diaries of several other explorers on Scott's voyage.

"It's an exciting find," the trust's executive director, Nigel Watson, said in a released statement. "The notebook is a missing part of the official expedition record. After spending seven years conserving Scott's last expedition building and collection, we are delighted to still be finding new artifacts."

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