European Drought Reveals Historical Treasures

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Over half of Europe has experienced a drought this summer (Credit: European Drought Observatory/CC BY-SA 3.0/Wikimedia Commons)

Europe experienced its hottest summer in recorded history in 2022. The high temperatures and arid weather dried up bodies of water, destroyed crops, and sparked several wildfires. The only silver lining? The extreme weather dropped water levels low enough to expose long-lost artifacts from the past.

Serbia

In Serbia, the receding water level in the Danube River — Europe's second largest river — has revealed more than twenty Nazi German warships full of ammunition and explosive devices. The exposed World War II vessels are just a sample of the hundreds deliberately sunk by the Germans as they tried to flee from the advancing Soviet troops in 1944.

Spain

In central Spain, the drought has helped reveal the Dolmen of Guadalperal, a prehistoric circle of stones dating back to 5000 BCE. The ancient monument, nicknamed the "Spanish Stonehenge," was excavated by German archaeologist Hugo Obermaier in 1926. In 1963, the Spanish government flooded the area to build the now-standing Valdecañas reservoir. The recent drought has dropped the reservoir's water level to 23 percent capacity, allowing historians to catch a glimpse of the ancient relic.

Enrique Cedillo, an archaeologist at Complutense University of Madrid, told Reuters, "It's a surprise…a rare opportunity to be able to access it."

Germany and the Czech Republic

The drought is revealing "hunger stones" in Germany and the Czech Republic (Credit: Dr. Bernd Gross/CC-BY-SA-3.0/Wikipedia.org)

The dry banks of Germany's Rhine River and the Czech Republic's Elbe River have uncovered the so-called "hunger stones." The engraved stones, which range in date from 1947 to as recent as 2018, commemorate famine and other hardships. Some rocks are inscribed with just dates and initials. Others feature dire messages, such as "If you see me, then weep," and "When this goes under, life will become more colorful again."

Resources: Smithsonianmag.com,euronews.com, Zenger.news

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