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I'm looking for the name of a short story, probably written between the late 1940s and the 1980s, most likely in a Science Fiction anthology.

The narrator is exploring a polar region, and finds evidence of a pre-human civilization, which destroyed itself with a war that wiped out earthly life. He finds the mummified remains of a guard, non-human (insect-like) at the mouth of a cave/tunnel, looking south. The narrator speculates that radiation killed him at his post, and considers that nuclear war could wipe out the human race in the same manner.

That's all I recall. It is not "The Mountains of Madness" by Lovecraft.

  • Did the protagonist find a woman in stasis and revive her? Keith Laumer wrote something in this vein, but I do not remember insects. – Vicpylon Jan 15 '18 at 4:29
  • There is also The Ice People, from Barjavel, where a woman in stasis is found inside a golden egg, which has some similar points (pre-human civilisation, wiped itself out). – C.F Jan 16 '18 at 13:06
  • Thanks for the suggestion, but I don't think that's it, although I'll look for the Laumer piece. I'm pretty sure that the explorer didn't find any other relics. The basic theme was that the human race could easily meet the same fate of self-destruction. That's why I suspect it was from the late '50s or early 60's, when Cold War anxiety was at its peak. – S. Dennett Jan 16 '18 at 14:29

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