It’s important, as we casually stroll into climate change apocalypse, to take time to see the sights — for example, some stunning ancient Buddhist statues revealed by the receding waters of the Yangtze River during a dramatic drought affecting southwestern China. A once-submerged island off the city of Chongqing has appeared in the dwindling river, crowned by a trio of carved statues believed to be 600 years old, state media Xinhua reported, according to Reuters.
The Yangtze is the is the longest river in Asia and the third longest in the world. It is still flowing, albeit in a much-diminished capacity, even as some 66 rivers across 34 counties in Chongqing have dried up due to a 70-day heatwave that continues to linger, and rainfall that has been reduced to 45% of normal levels. The statues sit within carved alcoves at the high point of the Foyeliang island reef, and have been speculatively identified as dating to the Ming and Qing dynasties. The central figure is a monk sitting on a lotus pedestal. Perhaps he is praying for rain.
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This is just one of many ancient treasures that have surfaced this year, as water levels reach historic lows, revealing a fleet of sunken Nazi warships in the Danube River in Serbia; “Spanish Stonehenge,” in Spain’s province of Cáceres; the lost Mitanni Empire, a Bronze Age city in Mosul, Iraq; and perhaps most disturbingly, “hunger stones” along the Rhine in Germany. The latter are warnings engraved in 1616, a drought year so severe that crops failed, leaving the citizenry of the time starving to death. The message on the stones, which were revealed previously in 2018 during another severe drought, translates as, “If you see me, weep!”