Hidden ‘Hunger Stones’ Reveal Drought Warnings From the Past

atcclears shares a report from ScienceAlert: An intense drought is shrinking rivers across Europe, revealing stones carved centuries ago to give future generations a warning of hard times ahead. The Miami Herald reported that locals said the centuries-old boulders, known as “hunger stones,” reappeared last week as rivers in Europe ran dry due to drought conditions. One such stone is on the banks of the Elbe River, which begins in the Czech Republic and flows through Germany. The boulder dates back to 1616 and is etched with a warning in German: “Wenn du mich seehst, dann weine” — “If you see me, then weep,” according to a Google translation of the phrase.

In a 2013 study, a team of Czech researchers wrote that these boulders are “chiseled with the years of hardship and the initials of authors lost to history,” adding that the “basic inscriptions warn of the consequences of drought.” “It expressed that drought had brought a bad harvest, lack of food, high prices and hunger for poor people,” researchers wrote. “Before 1900, the following droughts are commemorated on the stone: 1417, 1616, 1707, 1746, 1790, 1800, 1811, 1830, 1842, 1868, 1892, and 1893.” These “hydrological landmarks” last surfaced during a 2018 drought, NPR reported. But the current drought Europe is experiencing could be the worst in 500 years, according to Andrea Toreti, a senior researcher at the European Commission’s Joint Research Center.

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