Frozen Corpses Golden Treasures
Frozen Corpses Golden Treasures is a feature length documentary of the true ‘Indiana Jones’ story without the gimmicks and sensationalism of many shows/films on archaeology, with stranger-than-fiction characters, investigation of serious underreported crimes, and a real scientific discovery.
The central goal of this project is to excite wonder about the untold parts of the human story that are hidden in remote corners of the globe. In the summer of 2017 explorer and filmmaker Trevor Wallace documented the discovery of the largest, oldest, Scythian permafrost tomb ever found. In rare cases frozen soil that lasts through the warm summer months has preserved Scythian ice mummies covered in elaborate tattoos, the oldest carpets ever found, and other unique organic artifacts. Since the Scythians had no written language, the organic material preserved in ice is the key to understanding this mysterious culture of nomadic horse lords that ruled over vast territory of the Eurasian steppe 2,500 years ago. This film is a look into the life of an archaeologist, how new technology like lidar, ground penetrating radar, and drones have transformed fieldwork and furthered our understanding of the past. The film also tackles the issue of tomb raiding which has decimated the little knowledge we have of the Scythians. Trevor and Gino have gone undercover to document the supply chain of the antiquities black market. They show how smuggling networks, middlemen, and high-level dealers contribute to the loss of cultural heritage and history. This problem destroys scientific knowledge but is also connected to organized crime, conflict profiteering, and even human trafficking.
A young archaeologist Gino Caspari dreams to unlock the secrets of the ancient culture of the Scythians, a tribe of nomadic horse lords that ruled Central Asia 2,000 years before Ghengis Khan. With the help of his expedition partner, explorer and filmmaker Trevor Wallace, Gino combs satellite imagery, old tomes, and dusty treasure maps across the libraries and museums of Europe to unravel the mystery of these prehistoric warriors of Central Asia. With these clues, the team travels deep into remote areas of Western China in search of an intact tomb, wrestling with Kazakh nomads, exploring alpine lakes on horseback, but they are eventually captured by Chinese military on the border of Kazhakstan. After narrowly escaping, they find evidence of looted tombs and follows the trail of stolen Scythian artifacts into the black market of elite dealers and illicit collectors around the globe. Despite finally tracking down the gold, the artifacts don’t reveal the knowledge they are searching for. To find an intact tomb is the true discovery, and with the help of satelight imagery and old soviet treasure maps to scour the mountains and plateaus of Central Asia they are able to find a tomb shrouded in mystery located deep in a Siberian swamp. Assembling a team of archaeologists they spends months camped out in the wilderness excavating the tomb. To the great surprise of the archaeological world it turns out that the tomb is the largest permafrost tomb discovered and they make the find of the decade.
Trevor Wallace is an expedition filmmaker focusing on the wild, remote corners of the world and stories of the human spirit. He is a member of the Explorers Club and awarded '2018 New Explorer of the Year.' Trevor has done three investigative and field research expeditions with Dr. Gino Caspari, capturing their search for Scythian tombs in the feature documentary Frozen Corpses Golden Treasures. In the summer of 2017, Trevor carried Flag 134 with Dr. Gino Caspari to Siberia where they, along with a team of archaeologists from the Russian Academy of Sciences, were the first to document the tomb of Tunnug-1, the oldest Scythian royal tomb ever found. Trevor’s films have been screened at the American Museum of Natural History, the Polar Film Festival, and the World Water Forum.
DR. GINO CASPARI -ARCHAEOLOGIST
Dr. Gino Caspari is a Swiss archaeologist and explorer. The Fulbright alumnus and Columbia University graduate focuses on the discovery and analysis of ancient landscapes, graves, and ruins. Years of fieldwork, rigid academic training, and a sense of adventure have led him to work in remote steppes, mountains, and deserts. As a year-long grantee of the Swiss National Science Foundation, he is leading the 4 year excavation of Tunnug-1 alongside colleagues from the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Hermitage Museum.
THEMES OF THE FILM
- Scythians were nomadic horse lords that ruled Eurasia 2,000 years before Genghis Khan, they were the first mounted archers in history who led the early innovation of horse riding
-Kurgans were the burial mound tombs full of gold artifacts they left all across Eurasia. In rare cases of permafrost tombs, ice has preserved wood carvings, the world's oldest carpets, and the tattooed skin of ancient warriors. Because of climate change melting the ice there are only a handful left.
-Tomb raiders have looted more than 95% of Scythian tombs. After finding recently looted tombs, Gino and Trevor have gone undercover to document the supply chain of black market antiquities.
-In summer 2017 Gino led a small group of archaeologists to do the first documentation of the oldest, largest, royal Scythian tomb in Siberia. In summer 2018 they will return to the tomb to do a full excavation finishing the final chapter of the film.