Unprecedented Drought Leads to 'Rare Opportunity'

Scientists rush to study 'Spanish Stonehenge,' ancient rock circle emerging as water levels drop
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 20, 2022 8:45 AM CDT

"Spanish Stonehenge" is back. The Dolmen of Guadalperal, a circle of 150 stones in Caceres believed to be about 7,000 years old, was purposely submerged underwater in 1963, part of Spain's efforts to build the Valdecanas reservoir. Over the years, the rocks occasionally peeked out when weather conditions got dry and the water level dropped, and in 2019, for the first time in more than 50 years, the ancient monument on the Peraleda de la Mata coast briefly emerged from its watery tomb in full. Now, amid an unprecedented drought in Europe, the stones are out and about once more, thanks to the reservoir's water level dropping to 28% capacity, officials say. NBC News has images.

"It's a surprise, it's a rare opportunity to be able to access it," Complutense University archaeologist Enrique Cedillo tells Reuters. Not much is known about who erected the stones or why, though one running theory is that they may have served as tombs, as human remains have been found nearby. Now, with this month's temporary showing, scientists are rushing to the site to study the monument while they can. Historians and tourism authorities have pushed for the stones to be moved to drier land or to a museum.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post reports that the European drought has also exposed a "graveyard of sunken German warships filled with explosives and ammunition" in the Danube River in Serbia, near the port town of Prahovo. The ships are said to have been a part of the Nazis' Black Sea fleet that sank while trying to get away from the Soviets in 1944. (Read more Spain stories.)

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