Spain sees mysterious submarine ‘Stonehenge’ emerge from drought-hit dam | Travel


A brutal summer has wreaked havoc on many people in rural Spain, but an unexpected side effect of the country’s worst drought in decades has thrilled archaeologists – the emergence of a prehistoric stone circle in a dam whose the water line receded.

Officially known as the Dolmen of Guadalperal but dubbed the Spanish Stonehenge, the circle of dozens of megalithic stones is believed to date back to 5000 BC.

It currently sits fully exposed in a corner of the Valdecanas reservoir in the central province of Caceres, where authorities say the water level has dropped to 28% of its capacity.

“It’s a surprise, it’s a rare opportunity to be able to access it,” said archaeologist Enrique Cedillo of Madrid’s Complutense University, one of the experts who rushed to study the circle before it is submerged again.

It was discovered by German archaeologist Hugo Obermaier in 1926, but the area was flooded in 1963 during a rural development project under the dictatorship of Francisco Franco.

Since then, it has only become fully visible four times.

Dolmens are vertically arranged stones usually supporting a flat rock. Although there are many scattered across Western Europe, little is known about who erected them. Human remains found in or near many have led to an oft-cited theory that they are graves.

Local history and tourism associations have advocated moving the stones from Guadalperal to a museum or elsewhere on dry land.

Their presence is also good news for Ruben Argentas, who owns a small boat tour business. “The dolmen emerges and the dolmen tourism begins,” he told Reuters after a busy day of shuttling tourists to the site.

But there is no silver lining for local farmers.

“There hasn’t been enough rain since spring… There is no water for the cattle and we have to transport them,” said José Manuel Comendador. Another, Rufino Guinea, said his sweet pepper crop had been devastated.

Climate change has left the Iberian Peninsula at its driest level for 1,200 years, and winter rains are expected to decrease further, according to a study published by the journal Nature Geoscience.

This story was published from a news feed with no text edits. Only the title has been changed.

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