Spain Travel Guide

This Rediscovered ‘Stonehenge’ Is Cool, but the Reason It’s Back Is Not

PHOTO: By Pleonr - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

Would you like the bad news first, or the bad news?

The good news is that there’s an ancient circle of stones now completely visible to the world in western Spain. The bad news is absolutely everything else surrounding this particular situation because it’s entirely due to climate change.

After a summer consisting of drought and two extreme heatwaves, a 7,000-year-old monument in Spain has been exposed for the first time in 50 years after water levels dropped in the Valdecañas Reservoir. The circle of over 100 rocks called the Dolmen of Guadalperal (also known as the “Spanish Stonehenge”) is now entirely exposed. And while it’s been fairly regular for the tops of the stones to be occasionally visible, they haven’t been completely on dry land since 1963, when the area was flooded to construct the man-made lake, which is a major generator of power for the area.

By Pleonr – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

This is just one of many examples in recent years of how extreme weather conditions as a result of climate change can affect archeological sites. And while some archeologists even call this a “silver lining” to the immense global problem there’s absolutely no such thing as a silver lining when it comes to climate change. Climate change is doing too much harm (including other archeological sites) for commenting on the “good” not to be totally bonkers and dark.

There’s absolutely no such thing as a silver lining when it comes to climate change.

Now, this isn’t exactly new information. Last year, a group of archeologists from around the world published the first data regarding how climate change is destroying archeological sites in the Arctic (which is warming faster than any other region) alone, and it is all around bad (eroding coastlines, organic artifacts being melted out of ice and therefore decaying more rapidly, looting, etc). Last week, an actual funeral was held for a glacier in Switzerland that was taken off the Swiss glacier surveillance network due to rising temperatures causing it to melt rapidly.

The list goes on. Seasonal flooding and extreme desertification threaten Chinguetti, in north-central Mauritania. Sonargaon (the capital of the ancient kingdom of Bengal), Herschel Island (located in Canada’s Yukon Territory), and the Elephanta Caves (Hindu caves located on the island of Gharapuri) are all being threatened by rising sea levels. The Banaue Rice Terraces of the Philippines are being ruined by extreme rainfall.

So, while climate change may cause elements that uncover parts of preserved areas we weren’t able to see before, it’s not any sort of silver lining. As quickly as they appear and we “discover” them, they’ll be gone not too soon after that. And all we’ll have left are facts about things we’ll never see again.