Sep 23, 2022

Europes Shrinking Waterways Reveal Treasures, and Experts Are Worried

Do you think you have learned everything about your ancestors’ hometown? Think again. There may be some new (and very old) information available today.

Across Europe, once-submerged villages, ships and bridges some dating back thousands of years have re-emerged this year as rivers and reservoirs have dried up. The steady stream of gripping photos have circulated while much of the continent faced a string of extreme heat waves and a devastating drought, two phenomena that scientists say are made more likely and more severe by human-caused climate change.

The remains of Aceredo in northwestern Spain, including homes and trucks that usually sit at the bottom of a reservoir, have been visible since late last year. The compounding impacts of drought and extreme heat have been clear.

In Spain, the Dolmen of Guadalperal, a four- to five-millennium-old megalithic monument often called the Spanish Stonehenge, rose from a drought-hit dam west of Madrid. In Italy, where residents are facing its worst drought in 70 years, ruins of an ancient Roman Neronian bridge are visible in the Tiber River. One of Germanys largest reservoirs, the Edersee, has shrunken so much that the foundation of Berich, a village that was flooded in 1914, can be seen. In Prahovo, Serbia, water levels in the Danube River have fallen so low that more than a dozen sunken Nazi Germany World War II boats are now exposed. And in Northern England, falling water levels at Baitings Reservoir have revealed an ancient packhorse bridge.

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