“If you see me cry”: the ancient stones that expose the drought of the main rivers of Europe

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image source, Getty Images

The drought in Europe is uncovering a sinister warning from our ancestors presaging periods of misery.

The so-called “hunger stones” are rocks in riverbeds that are only visible when water levels are extremely low.

Carved into them, ancient peoples left messages about catastrophes triggered by lack of water and reminders of the hardships suffered during droughts.

The inscriptions go back decades and centuriesexplained the user @Batallitass in a tweeter thread that has gone viral these days.

The oldest inscription found in the Elbe river basin dates from 1616 and is in German.

Its translation is “If you see me, cry”.

image source, Bernd Gross/CC-BY-SA-3.0-DE


Inscription on the Děčín Hunger Stone: “Wenn du mich siehst, dann weine” (“If you see me, cry”).

It is particularly famous because its inhabitants chiseled on its surface the dates of severe droughts.

According to a study carried out in 2013 by a Czech team, the years 1417, 1616, 1707, 1746, 1790, 1800, 1811, 1830, 1842, 1868, 1892 and 1893 can be read on it.

Life will bloom again once this stone disappears”, reads another of the carved rocks.

“The one who once saw me, cried. The one who sees me now will cry,” predicts one more.

“If you see this stone again, you will cry. That’s how shallow the water was in 1417,” says another.

Map where some of the

Stones that announce poverty

And it is that in the past, that the water reached those such low levels meant poverty and lack for many cities.

The drought brought ruin to the crops but also cut off the waterways that brought foodsupplies of all kinds and charcoal for cooking, threatening the livelihood of families living along the coast.

And after that came the famines.

Formerly, the area of ​​Central Europe, which includes parts of Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria and Hungarydepended on the fertile land on the banks of the rivers to produce food.

In recent years, the phenomenon of drought has become the most prominent manifestation of climate change in Central Europe.

The years 1893, 1899, 2003, 2015 appear on this stone.

image source, Bernd Gross/CC-BY-SA-3.0-DE


The years 1893, 1899, 2003, 2015 appear on this stone.

Rock in Dresden, Germany.

image source, Bernd Gross/CC-BY-SA-3.0-DE


Rock in Dresden, Germany.

reminders of the past

One of the towns to expose more stones is Děčín, a city in the north of the Czech Republic, where the Elbe and Ploučnice rivers converge and very close to the border with Germany.

The Elbe River rises in the Czech Republic and flows through Germany to the North Sea.

In its flow up to a dozen of these stones appear, reminding the local population of a hard period in the past.

Another hunger stone is on display at the Schönebeck City Museum, an ancient tombstone that lay in a harbor basin and on which particularly low water levels were carved.

In 1904 the water dropped to 47 cm and the visibility of this stone it indicated to the boats that the flow was not sufficient to navigate.

Stone in the Schönebeck city museum.

image source, CC-BY-SA-3.0-DE


Stone in the Schönebeck city museum.

In addition to the stones, several stones have been found in the river bed. WWII bombs without exploding.

Most of the “hunger stones” are found in the Elbe River, although they have also appeared in the Rhine, the Mosel, the Mündesee or the Weser.

extreme drought

In recent weeks, France and Spain have had to restrict water consumption due to a severe drought.

In parts of both countries, the authorities have been forced to cut off the supply in certain circumstances.

The French government declared that the country is facing the worst drought in recorded history.


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The article is in Spanish

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