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The drought of 2022 has brought to light hidden treasures  

Crédit photo © Reuters

Three Buddhist statues thought to be 600 years old emerged from the waters of the Yangtze river in southwest China, while the region was being hit by a heatwave and drought.

Tucked in alcoves of rock on the high ground of Foyeliang island, the central statue of the edifice represents a costumed monk seated on a lotus pedestal, hands joined together in front of his lower abdomen. According to Niu Yingbin, a researcher associated with the Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology of Chongqing, the statues were erected to bless boats to ensure them peaceful navigation conditions on the river.

In Iraq, an entire ancient city dating back 3,500 years and submerged in the waters of the Tigris came to light. The archaeologists had only a few weeks to dig before the waters rose again.

In the United States, a 19th century ship was found on the dried-up bed of the Mississippi, in Louisiana.

Weeks of burning drought across Europe also revealed long submerged treasures:

The Danube
fell to one of its lowest levels in nearly a century, exposing the wrecks of 20 German warships sunk during the Second World War, close to the Serbian port of Prahovo.

In Spain, archaeologists were able to examine dozens of prehistoric Guadalperal monoliths in a dried-up reservoir in Estremadura.

As for Italy, a somewhat less splendid discovery was made by fishers on the River Po, near an inhabited village: that of bombs buried since the Second World War (and which have since been disarmed).

In Rome, the level of the Tiber fell by a metre, revealing the vestiges of Pons Neronianus, an ancient bridge linked to the emperor Nero. The edifice could have been destroyed in about the 3rd century AD.

The low water levels of the Elbe and Rhine in the Czech Republic and Germany also revealed rocks with engravings made several hundred years ago during previous drought episodes: a warning of famines linked to periods of water shortages. These engraved stones, 25 of which exist in Europe, and sadly baptised by the scientific community “stones of hunger”, are visible only when the water of the rivers is low.

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