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ENVIRONMENT

What are the ‘hunger stones’, the finding that has past warnings about Earth’s lack of water?

Rocks with inscriptions have been found in the bed of some European rivers, which can only be seen when the water levels drop, and could endanger the population.

Update:
What are the ‘hunger stones’, the finding that has experts worried about Earth’s lack of water

The 2022 summer drought has revealed military camps in the Spanish region of Galicia, mythical filming locations without water, Nazi ships from the Second World War, an ancient town in Catalonia, and even an Iraqi city more than three centuries old. The water is drying up, as the knowledge of what lies beneath is absorbed.

Dinosaur footprints, Spanish stonehenge, Nazi ships... and warnings

In addition to the archaeological remains, some rivers have also seen marks of historical droughts with messages for the current population.

Messages under the water.
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Messages under the water.

What the hunger stones say

In the bed of some rivers there are stones and rocks, which appear when the water levels are very low, and send messages to future generations. The oldest inscription on these so-called ‘hunger stones’ found in the Elbe river basin in the Czech Republic dates from 1616, and is written in German. It reads: “If you see me, weep.”

It is just one of many across central European rivers that were engraved to show their levels during historic droughts.

Germany is where they have been found the most, and the fact is that the current drought, which has brought the level of the rivers to historic lows, has made it possible to find dozens of these hunger stones in Saxony, according to the Sachsische Zeitung newspaper. In the 19th century, many travellers, in times of drought, recorded the presence of the ‘hunger stones’ and wrote about them.

Currently, the problem is not so much the threat that the drought implies for agriculture (which is also clearly important) as the issues that the low level of the rivers brings to transportation, which, according to the Confederation of German Industry (BDI), it is a threat to supply chains, and it can affect a significant amount of economic activity.

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