Ancient worlds are being uncovered by extreme heat
Reject modernity, embrace tradition
image Adri Salido/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
words Megan Wallace
This is stating the obvious, but it's getting kinda hot in here. With heatwaves sweeping across Europe, temperatures are reaching above 40 degrees celsius in places like the UK, Portugal and France. Not to be dramatic but chaos is ensuing, with forest fires and droughts across the continent. And for us Brits, chronically unused to heat and underprepared for summer weather, every aspect of our lives – from our jobs to our sex lives – has been impacted.
Obviously, when thinking about the rising temperatures and what they mean for our future, it is hard to not become overwhelmed by eco-anxiety. We would be lying if we were to claim to have successfully repressed our climate fears to fully enjoy this blast of vitamin D and Martin Parr-style staycation weather. This underlying ecological dread is what makes the "hunger stones" or "Hungersteine” cropping up across rivers in Germany and the Czech Republic such a mood.
Resurfacing due to this summer's extreme heat, these ancient stones were embedded into river beds during times of drought as a warning to future generations. Marking the water level, they memorialise the hardships of centuries past and are designed to advertise that the community currently seeing them will likely face famine due to water shortages and dry conditions. Common through the 15th to 19th centuries and found in rivers like the Elbe and Danube, several of the stones were uncovered during the summer of 2018 and, four years later, they're now back.
Images of the hunger stones have been circulating on Twitter after German reporter Olaf Koens tweeted images of the stones on 11 August, describing the artefacts as "horrifying" and "macabre", as well as highlighting a stone bearing the chilling warning "if you see me, weep". We didn't imagine this on our 2022 moodboard but, tbh, they make sense.
These aren't the only relics shored up by this summer's extreme weather. As recently compiled by Bloomberg, the heatwaves hitting Europe and other corners of the world over the course of 2022 have uncovered once-forgotten histories from the distant and near past.
One of the recently re-discovered historic gems is located in Derbyshire's Chatsworth House. In the estate formerly owned by the 1st Duke of Devonshire, a lawn in the grounds of the stately home has been scorched by recent heat in order to unveil an ornate garden that dates back to 1699. Bridgerton fans and regencycore girlies, hold onto your crinoline! Documented via drone footage, the lawn now shows signs of the flower beds and winding paths which once flourished before the area was covered over with grass in 1730.
And, as is the case with the hunger stones mentioned above, the depleting water levels in rivers and bodies of water across the globe have been leading to some pretty interesting (only occasionally gruesome) findings.
Over in Italy, the country's River Po is facing its worst drought in seventy years, with parts of the river bed completely dried up. The crisis has been ongoing since July and some unusual slices of history have been uncovered during that time. Among them is a 164 foot barge which was sunk in 1945, during World War II. According to a report by Reuters earlier this month, this wasn't the only bizarre memento uncovered from the war. A previously submerged bomb resurfaced on 25 July in the northern village of Borgo Virgilio, causing panic and drama. A controlled explosion was carried out on 7 August by military experts, which required 3000 people to be evacuated from the surrounding area.
Stateside, Nevada's Lake Mead has been emptying out its secrets as the temperatures continue to rise across the world. NPR reports that due to the dangerously low water levels, a total of four sets of human bodily remains have been found: including one that has been identified as a homicide, with the body found in a barrel. Yikes! Similar to the River Po, a World War II landing craft was also discovered.
On the more fantastical side of the spectrum, once-hidden settlements have been uncovered due to rising temperatures and a lack of rainfall in Iraq and Spain. In the former instance, the 3400-year-old city of Zakhiku was discovered by German and Kurdish researchers in Iraq's Mosul reservoir earlier this year. The excavation team shocked to discover well-preserved walls made of sun-dried mud bricks. Turns out, the planet's loss is archaeologists' gain.
Over in the Spanish region of Galicia, a former town from a much more recent corner of history was uncovered in February of this year. Once called Aceredo, the settlemen has been submerged by a dam since 1992 and re-emerged after 30 years underwater after an extreme drought dried out the Alto Lindoso reservoir.
Admittedly, all these discoveries aren't much of a silver lining to impending climate doom, but we'll take what we can get...
That’s hot? Man falls into volcano while taking selfie
Now that’s dedication to the perfect shot
Turns out the Loch Ness Monster could be real after all
Researchers believe that a recently found fossil could back up Scotland’s most famous myth
Watch a snake walk in a four-legged robot suit
Science vlogger Allen Pan wants to give serpents ‘their legs back’ – watch that python go!
Eight ways to make Christmas work for the planet
Make a Christmas commitment to the circular economy
Bags for every occasion
All the practical, cute, and sexy bags for holding your essentials during work, play, travel and beyond
Cover crops: a way to save the world
Cover crops provide hope for Ghana's chocolate farming, and might well save the planet too
The four day week is great for wellbeing
tests from a trial prove a four-day week improves wellbeing and productivity.
Pop-punk, whippets and sudden races, running as a woman is about redefinition
Morning jogs and the big little lies we tell ourselves about what sort of woman runs
Stop scrolling: spooky season, The 1975 and getting closer to nature
Woo's cultural tonic for the endless cycle of doomscrolling
This river in Colombia is renowned for its joyful array of colours
There’s a reason the Caño Cristales is better known as the liquid rainbow
the best pair of leggings for every type of runner
Whether you're a light jogger or training for a marathon, here’s our guide to the best running leggings
love Island ditches fast fashion sponsors for eBay in new deal
2022’s Islanders will wear second-hand clothes, in a first for the show which has previously aligned itself with brands like Missguided
How to see the Perseid meteor shower in the UK
Gaze at up to 150 shooting stars per hour as they light up the sky
Why climate activists are celebrating the net zero strategy ruling
Friends of the Earth’s lawyer, Katie de Kauwe, explains why the British government’s climate targets were found to be unlawful by the High Court
‘Clean-up raves’ are uniting young people in Ukraine
Volunteers from Repair Together are finding new ways to rebuild communities during the Russian occupation
Old cats, old dogs, charity football tops, and brown noise, that’s just some of the good news this week.
The last Friday of the second-last month of the year, woah. Hope you have some Vitamin D and a lovely weekend, get some outdoors! To line up for the w...
Watch Lapland's national park transform into a winter wonderland
The frost-covered forest of Riisitunturi National Park looks like a page ripped out of a Dr Seuss book
10 essential products for solo travel
What to bring on holidays alone for a safe, fun, and independent adventure – because you’re a Thelma who doesn’t need no Louise