‘Spanish Stonehenge’ emerges from drought-hit dam

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CACERES, Spain, Aug. 18 (Reuters) – A brutal summer has devastated many in rural Spain, but an unexpected side effect of the country’s worst drought in decades has delighted archaeologists: the emergence of a prehistoric stone circle in a dam whose waterline has shifted.

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

It is currently fully visible in a corner of the Valdecanas reservoir, in the central province of Caceres, where authorities say the water level has fallen to 28% of capacity.

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“It’s a surprise, it’s a rare opportunity to access it,” said archaeologist Enrique Cedillo of the Complutense University of Madrid, one of the experts racing to study the circle before it floods again.

It was discovered in 1926 by German archaeologist Hugo Obermaier, 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 placed stones that usually support a flat boulder. While many are scattered throughout Western Europe, little is known about who founded them. Human remains found in or near many have led to an oft-cited theory that they are tombs.

Local historical and tourist associations have advocated moving the Guadalperal Stones to a museum or elsewhere on dry land.

Their presence is also good news for Ruben Argentas, who owns a small boat tour company. “The dolmen are emerging and dolmens tourism is starting,” he told Reuters after a busy day bringing tourists to the site and back.

But there is no panacea for local farmers.

“There hasn’t been enough rain since spring… There is no water for the livestock and we have to transport it inside,” said Jose Manuel Comendador. Another, Rufino Guinea, said his pepper crop had been destroyed.

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

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Additional reporting by Susana Vera, written by Anna Valderrama and Andrei Khalip; Edited by John Stonestreet

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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