Boulders known as “hunger stones” are reappearing in the Elbe River, due to this summer’s drought in Central Europe.
The low water levels in the river that begins in the Czech Republic, then crosses Germany into the North Sea has exposed stones on the river bed whose appearances in history used to warn people that hard times were coming.
Jiri Mach, Head of Decin Elbe River Authority said, “If we wanted the river bed of the Elbe River to fill up, we would need a month’s rain. We thought three weeks would be enough, but now it would have to be a full month because the ground water levels are getting lower and some of the small tributaries are dried out completely.”
Over a dozen of the hunger stones, chosen to record low water levels, can now be seen in and near the northern Czech town of Decin near the German border.
The oldest water mark visible dates to 1616. That stone, is considered the oldest hydro-logical landmark in Central Europe, bears a chiseled inscription in German that says: “When you see me, cry.”
“In recent years some of them have been appearing every year, that is since 2015 when we’d had the dry conditions that we’ve had recently,” said Mach.