Hunger Stones Bearing Ominous Messages Have Resurfaced in Drought-Stricken Europe

A hunger stone in Dresden, Germany
A hunger stone in Dresden, Germany
Dr. Bernd Gross, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

Ancient stones bearing ominous phrases in German—like "When you see me, weep"—have resurfaced along a river bed in the Czech Republic, the Associated Press reports.

The oldest marking on one of these "hunger stones," as they're called, dates back to 1616. They're usually concealed by the Elbe River, but sweltering temperatures and drought across Central Europe have led to lower water levels, exposing the cryptic inscriptions once again.

Known as hungerstein in German, the stones have historically been used to record low water levels and warn future generations of drought, bad harvests, and tough times ahead. Inscriptions also recorded the date and struggles of that period, such as a lack of food, high prices, and, of course, hunger.

More than a dozen hunger stones are now visible in the town of Decin near the Czech-German border. The one that urges observers to "weep" has become a tourist attraction.

Due to the construction of a dam in 1926, the rock reappears more frequently than it once did—showing its face 126 days per year, on average—but the river's water levels are especially low this summer.

As Smithsonian Magazine points out, this isn't the first archaeological site to be exposed by the heat, either. So far this summer, the drought has revealed a 4500-year-old henge in Ireland, a 17th-century garden in England, and a once-submerged village in Germany.

[h/t Science Alert]

Take Advantage of Amazon's Early Black Friday Deals on Tech, Kitchen Appliances, and More

Amazon
Amazon

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

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Archaeologists Discover the Jousting Yard Where Henry VIII Had His Historic Accident

National Trust, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
National Trust, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Henry VIII may have never earned his reputation as an ill-mannered tyrant if it weren't for injuries he sustained at age 44. Now, as Live Science reports, archaeologists have uncovered the infamous jousting yard where that history-changing accident took place.

Prior to the beheading of Anne Boleyn—his second of six wives—King Henry VIII was regarded as a kind, gregarious leader by those who knew him. The point where descriptions of him changed their tone coincided with a fall he took on January 24, 1536.

While jousting at Greenwich Palace, Henry was tossed from his armored horse and further injured when his steed fell on top of him. The incident caused him to lose consciousness for two hours and nearly cost him his life.

Though it was never diagnosed, some experts believe Henry VIII sustained a brain injury that day that altered his personality. From that point on, he was characterized as irritable and cruel. He was in constant pain from migraines and an ulcerated leg, which could also explain the mood shift. The (sometimes violent) dissolution of most of his marriages occurred post-accident.

Ruins of the jousting yard, or tiltyard, where that fateful incident took place are located 5.5 feet beneath the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site, the former site of Greenwich Palace. After falling into disrepair, the palace was demolished by Charles II, and the exact location of the tiltyard was forgotten. A team of archaeologists led by Simon Withers of the University of Greenwich used ground-penetrating radar (GPR) to locate the remnants buried beneath the ground earlier this year.

The giveaways were the footprints of two octagonal towers. The archaeologists say these were likely the foundations of the bleacher-like viewing stands where spectators watched jousting matches. That would place the historic tiltyard about 330 feet east of where it was originally thought to be situated.

The radar scans provided a peek at what lies beneath the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site, but to learn more, the archaeologists will need to get their hands dirty. Their next step will be digging up the site to get a better look at the ruins.

[h/t Live Science]