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Drought reveals ancient ‘hunger stones’ in European river

The low water levels have exposed stones on the river bed of the Elbe whose appearances in history used to warn people that hard times were coming.

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People visit one of the so-called hunger stones (Petr David Josek/AP)

People visit one of the so-called hunger stones (Petr David Josek/AP)

People visit one of the so-called hunger stones (Petr David Josek/AP)

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 and crosses Germany into the North Sea have exposed stones on the river bed whose appearances in history used to warn people that hard times were coming.

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People visit one of the ‘hunger stones’ (Petr David Josek/AP)

People visit one of the ‘hunger stones’ (Petr David Josek/AP)

AP/PA Images

People visit one of the ‘hunger stones’ (Petr David Josek/AP)

More than 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 hydrological landmark in Central Europe and bears a chiselled inscription in German that says: “When you see me, cry.”

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