From the dry river the "hunger stones": The alarm 500 years ago

From the dry river the "hunger stones": The alarm 500 years ago

Drought in Europe is drying up rivers. And due to the lack of water on the banks of the Elbe, which flows through Germany and the Czech Republic, the “hunger stones” have reappeared. Visible when the river level is very low, these ancient 17th-century engravings evoke past droughts and warn of famine. One of the most famous stones reads, “When you see me, you weep.” These stones are symbols of times of suffering, when the threat of famine was great and harvests scarce.

Engraved hundreds of years ago, the “Hunger Stones” are rocks placed in rivers to mark water levels and to warn future generations of the difficulties that will arise when they reappear (poor harvests, lack of food, high prices, etc .). . They serve as “watermarks” throughout Central Europe. The one made in the Czech Republic bears the legible date 1616, although older engravings (1417, 1473) have been erased from ships’ anchorages over the centuries.

The first “hunger stone” was unearthed by Greenpeace during the 2018 drought in Germany, when the Elbe reached its lowest level in over half a century. The previous record was broken this year. According to Andrea Toreti, senior researcher at the European Commission’s Joint Research Center (JRC), quoted by Euronews, this year’s episode could be the worst in the last 500 years had no event happened in 2018.

The European Drought Observatory reports that 47% of Europe is currently affected by drought conditions. With global warming, these natural disasters could increase.