In western Germany, the drop in the level of the Rhine due to the strong summer heat makes river navigation difficult, which is causing supply problems in the area and weighing on an already weakened German economy. This fall has also revealed a sinister message.
“If you see me cry,” says an inscription on a so-called hunger stone found on the banks of the Rhine River, one of the world’s most navigated.
These types of messages were left centuries ago in several major rivers in Europe. This is what we know about the hunger stones, their meaning and why they are a bad sign about the drought that this continent is experiencing.
What is a hunger stone?
Hunger stones are inscriptions made on rocks on the edges of the stones to announce when poverty or calamity is approaching, as they are related to the lack of water, which affects agriculture and navigation.
The famine stones in Europe
Over the centuries, Europeans marked low water levels during droughts by carving lines and dates into rocks found along the Elbe River, which runs from the Czech Republic to Germany.
The idea was that if water levels dropped low enough to reveal an ancient carving, it would signal to locals that dry and hungry times were ahead, similar to those experienced in the marked year.
More than a dozen of these “hunger stones” have reappeared on the Elbe this year, amid a record European drought, explains a report from
The oldest water mark dates back to 1616. This stone is considered one of the oldest hydrological signs in Central Europe.
the river rhine dries up
The water level of Germany’s Rhine river dropped again over the hot and dry weekend, causing cargo ships to be unable to navigate it fully loaded, shipping brokers and commodity traders said on Monday.
The shallow water is causing problems for navigation on the entire river in Germany. The Rhine is one of the key canals linking Germany’s industrial centers with North Sea ports, from which products are exported to world markets.
The transport of goods by the river continues, but with ships that are sometimes forced to navigate with three quarters of their carrying capacity. Hot and dry weather is forecast this week and no relief is in sight.
Water shortages on the Rhine will affect the output of two large coal-fired power plants in Germany over the next month.
The threat of a partial closure of river traffic on this river, one of the busiest in the world, has become an additional puzzle for German industry, hit by the Russian gas crisis and the sharp increase in energy prices. because of the war in Ukraine.
With information from AFP and Reuters