The water levels of the Yangtze River have plunged amid a severe drought in China, revealing a trio of Buddhists statues believed to be 600 years old. They were sitting on a submerged island off the southwestern city of Chongqing, China’s state-run press agency Xinhua reported.
The three statues were found on the highest part of the island reef, called Foyeliang, and date to the Ming and Qing dynasties. One of the statues depicts a monk perched on a lotus pedestal.
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The Yangtze, the world’s third-longest river, is one among several bodies of water in China drying up during the extreme heat wave caused by climate change, with temperatures in some cities surpassing 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Rainfall in the Yangtze basin has been around 45 percent lower than usual since July, and the sweltering heat is expected to last through September, according to forecasters. On Sunday, the provincial government said in a statement that the area was facing a “grave situation.”
“There are severe power shortages because of the extreme high temperature disaster and the drought,” the statement continued. The Yangtze River provides drinking water to more than 400 million Chinese people and is crucial to global shipping routes.
The unprecedented drought in Europe has similarly revealed sunken treasures. The Danube, which flows from western Germany to the Black Sea, is at one of its lowest water levels in nearly a century. The hulks of dozens of German warships sunk during World War II were exposed in the Danube near Prahovo in eastern Serbia; many still contain live ammunition and explosives.
In Spain, the drying of a dam led to the discovery of a prehistoric stone circle dubbed the “Spanish Stonehenge.” The ring of megalithic stones is officially known as the Dolmen of Guadalperal and likely dates back to 5000 BCE. The stones sit on an exposed corner of the Valdecanas reservoir, in the province of Caceres.
The circle of stones was discovered in 1926 by German archaeologist Hugo Obermaier, but the region was flooded in 1963 in a rural development scheme during Francisco Franco’s regime. It has been accessible to archeologists only four times since then due to fluctuating water levels in the dam.