Severe drought in Europe unearths ancient artifacts, from ‘Spanish Stonehenge’ to Emperor Nero’s bridge

Severe drought in Europe unearths ancient artifacts, from ‘Spanish Stonehenge’ to Emperor Nero’s bridge

The dolmen of Guadalperal, also known as

The dolmen of Guadalperal, also known as “Spanish Stonehenge”, is seen above the water level at the Valdecanas Reservoir on July 28, 2022.Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images

An intense ongoing drought is shrinking lakes, streams and reservoirs across Europe. An unexpected side effect: it reveals long-sunken traces of the past.

Since early 2022, Europe has experienced a long period of unusually high temperatures and severe lack of rainfall. In August, 47% of the continent was in drought warning conditions, characterized by a lack of soil moisture and negative effects on vegetation, according to the Global Drought Observatory. Andrea Toreti, a senior researcher at the European Commission’s Joint Research Center, told Sky News in August that the drought could be the worst in Europe in 500 years.

A growing body of research, including the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, suggests droughts like the one in Europe are intensifying as climate change pushes temperatures to new extremes.

From megalithic monuments to ancient bridges, sites and artifacts are still being unearthed by the drought of 2022 in Europe.

The dolmen of Guadalperal, also known as

The Guadalperal dolmen, normally submerged, in the Valdecanas reservoir in Spain during a drought, on July 28, 2022.Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images

In late July, falling water levels in Spain’s Valdecanas reservoir dropped to 28% of its capacity, exposing Guadalperal’s Dolmen, dubbed “Spanish Stonehenge,” Reuters reported.

“It’s a surprise, it’s a rare opportunity to access it,” Enrique Cedillo, an archaeologist from the Complutense University of Madrid, told Reuters. Cedillo wants to study the resurfaced monument before it is submerged again.

The Guadalperal dolmen is made of dozens of megalithic stones believed to date back to 5000 BC. It was discovered in 1926 by a German archaeologist and is normally underwater thanks to the construction of the reservoir in 1963. Since then, it has only become fully visible four times.

“All my life people had told me about the dolmen,” Angel Castaño, president of the local cultural association Raíces de Peralêda, told Atlas Obscura in 2019, when the monument last appeared due to low water levels. “I’d seen parts of it peeking out of the water before, but this is the first time I’ve seen it in full. It’s spectacular because you can appreciate the whole complex for the first time in decades.”

A view of the 'hunger stone' dating back to 1616.

A view of the “hunger stone”, dating back to 1616, revealed by low water levels in the River Elbe, between the Czech Republic and Germany, in 2018.REUTERS

In August, The Miami Herald reported that ancient boulders known as “hunger stones” reappeared as rivers in Europe ran dry due to drought.

One such stone resurfaced on the banks of the River Elbe, which begins in the Czech Republic and flows through Germany. Dating back to 1616, the boulder is etched with a warning in German: “Wenn du mich seehst, dann weine” – “If you see me, cry,” according to a translation from a 2013 study.

In the study, a team of Czech researchers wrote that these boulders “were chiseled through the years of hardship,” adding, “the basic inscriptions warn of the effects of drought.”

“It indicated that drought had brought poor harvests, lack of food, high prices and hunger to poor people,” researchers wrote. “Before 1900, the stone commemorates the following droughts: 1417, 1616, 1707, 1746, 1790, 1800, 1811, 1830, 1842, 1868, 1892 and 1893.”

The ship was sunk by the Germans in 1943 during World War II and came back to the surface as a result of the worst drought since the 1970s that ravaged the Po River and the entire Po Valley.

A World War II ship resurfaced in Italy’s Po River, seen on July 27, 2022.Nicola Marfisi/AGF/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The Po River, the country’s largest, is facing its worst drought in 70 years. In June, a sunken shipwreck of a World War II barge resurfaced due to declining water levels due to the intense drought. The 160-foot ship, known as the Zibello, was carrying timber during World War II and sank in 1943, CBS News reported.

On August 4, 2022, unexploded World War II bombs can be seen on dry water in Italy's Po River.

Unexploded World War II bombs can be seen on dry banks in Italy’s Po River on August 4, 2022.Nicola Ciancaglini/Ciancaphoto Studio/Getty Images

In late July, fishermen stumbled upon a previously submerged 1,000-pound World War II bomb along the drought-ravaged Italian river, Reuters said.

“The bomb was found by fishermen on the bank of the River Po as a result of a drop in water levels due to drought,” a local official told Reuters. About 3,000 people living in the area were evacuated so that the bomb could be safely removed by military experts.

The ruins of the ancient Roman Neronic Bridge, emerge from the riverbed of the River Tiber, in Rome, Monday, August 22, 2022.

The ruins of an ancient Roman bridge emerged from the riverbed of the River Tiber in Rome on August 22, 2022.AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia

Severe drought in August has also uncovered a bridge said to have been built during the reign of Roman Emperor Nero in the first century. The bridge is mostly submerged in the waters of the Tiber River in Italy.

According to historian Anthony Majanlahti, the bridge would have originally had four piers, but two were dismantled in the 19th century. One of the bridge’s piers can often be seen during the driest parts of the year. This year, however, according to The Associated Press, two are visible.

“Because the river’s water level is now so low due to widespread drought in Italy, we can see a lot more of the bridge’s piers than we normally would,” Majanlahti told The Associated Press.

Overview of the ancient village of Aceredo that was flooded in Spain.  Photo taken on February 10, 2022.

Overview of the ancient village of Aceredo that was flooded in Spain on February 10, 2022.REUTERS/Miguel Vidal

This spring, a once-flooded village in Spain resurfaced after a dam on the Spanish-Portuguese border ran dry due to drought. The village of Aceredo in Spain’s northwestern region of Galicia was flooded in 1992 to create the Alto Lindoso Reservoir, and its recently unveiled ruins attract tourists wanting to see the ancient village after decades underwater.

But some residents say it’s a worrying sign of what’s to come in a warming world.

“It’s like watching a movie. I have a feeling of sadness,” Maximino Perez Romero, a 65-year-old from the region, told Reuters. “My sense is that this is what will happen over the years due to drought and all, with climate change.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.