A side effect of Spain’s worst drought has exposed a circle of prehistoric rocks at a dam in the province of Cáceres. According to the Reuters news agency, the structure is officially known as the Guadalperal Dolmen, but was named after the Spanish Stonehenge, in reference to the British one.
The structure is believed to date from 5000 BC It is fully exposed in a corner of the Valdecanas Reservoir, where authorities claim the water level has dropped to 28% of capacity.
“It’s a surprise; it’s a rare opportunity to be able to access it,” said archaeologist Enrique Cedillo, from the Complutense University of Madrid. He is one of the experts who is studying the circle before it goes back under water.
The structure has been seen by researchers only four times in history. The first was by the German archaeologist Hugo Obermaier in 1926. However, the dolmen was submerged from 1963 onwards, when a development project under the dictatorship of Francisco Franco flooded the area.
Local History and Tourism Associations even advocated moving the Guadalperal stones to a museum or other place on dry land.
While there is no agreement on the structure’s destination, the site has become a tourist attraction. Ruben Argentas, owner of a small boating company, said: “Dolmens emerge and dolmen tourism begins.”
On the other hand, farmers in the region complain about the weather conditions that the province faces. “It hasn’t rained enough since the spring… There is no water for the cattle and we have to transport them,” said José Manuel Comendador. For Rufino Guiné, the pepper plantation was devastated by the drought.
Climate change has left the Iberian peninsula at its driest in 1,200 years, and winter rainfall is expected to decline further, according to a study published in the journal Nature Geoscience.