The appearance of these inscriptions on the stones of a river does not bode well. Updated by the drought, they echo past suffering. Explanations.
Our ancestors had warned us. Stone inscriptions baptized “Stones of Hunger”, found mainly in the Elbe or Rhine, were uncovered by the drought, which lowered the river’s water level.
water level indicator
One of the most famous stones is located in the Czech town of Děčín. It bears the urgent warning: “If you see me, then cry”. Dating back to the 15th century, these large stones served as markers for water levels. They are historical testimony to the droughts Europe has endured.
Recent droughts in Europe have made the “hunger stones” visible again in some Czech and German rivers. These stones were used to mark desperately low river levels that foretold famines. This one in the Elbe dates from 1616 and says: “If you see me, cry”#archaeostories pic.twitter.com/rkPDVw7uPx
— ArchaeoHistories (@arch_histories) August 14, 2022
As the German newspaper Der Spiegel explains, the oldest of these inscriptions dates back to 1417. On that of Děčín, which is in the country where the Elbe rises to cross Germany before it empties into the North Sea, that is Date entered 1616.
Drought, synonymous with poor harvests, was often an aggravating factor in the risk of famine. Other hunger stones are placed in the Elbe around the Czech city, with different dates like 1892, 1903, 1904, 1911, 1928, 1963 and even 2015.
A drought that will only get worse
The last time these stones reappeared was in 2018. Most of the photos of the hunger stones that have been circulated in the media are from 2018, explains Der Spiegel, pointing out that the level of the Elbe, on the other hand, is not exceptionally low this year compared to the severe drought that has afflicted other parts of Europe. This year, on the other hand, the appearance of other Hunger Stones in Germany was noted, for example in several places in the Rhine.
According to the European Drought Observatory, “the severe drought that has stricken several regions of Europe since the beginning of the year continues to spread and worsen” as drier-than-normal weather conditions are forecast for much of the continent over the next three months .