The Sciences

World War II Relics And Hunger Stones Emerge In European Drought

Lake Mead isn’t the only body of water giving up its secrets. Much of Europe is experiencing extreme drought, too.

By Monica CullAug 23, 2022 3:30 PM
ghost town of Aceredo in the Alto Lindoso reservoir
(Credit:makasana photo/Shutterstock)

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Lake Mead and Lake Powell aren’t the only bodies of water suffering from drought. Along with the American South West, parts of Europe, including the U.K., France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Germany and the Netherlands, are facing possibly the worst drought in 500 years.

Water levels in major rivers and lakes have dropped dramatically and relics from the past have emerged. People can now see the dreaded hunger stones and a bomb left over from World War II.


Read more: Shipwrecks And Lost Cities Come To The Surface In Lake Mead


Hunger Stones

(Credit:Daniel Albach/Shutterstock)

Hunger stones are a common marker in some European rivers. From the German word, hungerstein, hunger stones mark water levels during severe drought. They remind and warn future generations of the hardships endured in the past since you can see the carved years of past droughts. 

One notable hunger stone resurfaced in the Elbe River near Děčín, Czech Republic. Upon it is a warning, “Wenn du mich siehst, dann weine," which means, "If you see me, weep." Hunger stones are found throughout the Elbe River as water levels dwindle, and dates carved into the rock go back as far as 1417 and 1616. The most recent is from 2018, during a massive heat wave

World War II Relics

(Credit:DELBO ANDREA/Shutterstock)

Lake Mead isn’t the only drying body of water to reveal a WWII-era artifact. As the Po — the longest river in Italy — runs dry, an undetonated WWII bomb resurfaced. Fishermen discovered the 1,000-pound bomb near Borgo Virgilio.

The Italian army expertly removed the U.S.-made bomb and moved it to a detonation site 30 miles away from where it was found and evacuated the area for safety. Nearly 3,000 people needed to leave the area, and while there was some pushback, all eventually left. 

The Italian army successfully detonated the bomb, saying it contained over 530 pounds of explosives.  

The dwindling Po has also revealed the Zibello Barge, a WWII ship used by the Germans before it sank in 1943. While past droughts have exposed the bow of this ship, the barge is now nearly visible from bow to stern. 

Ruins

(Credit:makasana photo/Shutterstock)

Much like the ghost town of St. Thomas, Nevada, which was submerged after the Hoover Dam created Lake Mead, some European cities were swallowed up as reservoirs were made. Those cities haven’t seen the surface in decades — until now. 

The village of Aceredo, Spain, flooded in 1992 as the Alto Lindoso reservoir filled. Now, with the reservoir at 15 percent capacity, former residents of this ghost town have returned to see the remains of their homes. While it was possible to see the roofs of houses in the flooded village during the dry season, the entire village is now fully exposed.

Along with the ruins of Aceredo, church ruins in Ladybower Reservoir in Derbyshire have emerged. The church spire was left standing after the reservoir filled in 1940 but was knocked down in 1947 as a safety precaution. 

Dolmen of Guadalperal, or the “Spanish Stonehenge” has also emerged in the Valdecañas Reservoir in Spain. After its discovery in 1926 by Hugo Obermaier, a German archaeologist, it was submerged in 1963 due to development projects. It has come back to the surface at least four times since then, but researchers are scrambling to study it. 

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