Climate change-sparked droughts reveal wonders lost beneath the water

Dozens of ancient and lost cities, sunken treasures and grim reminders have been revealed for the first time in years - and in some cases tens, hundreds and even thousands of years.

 Wreckage of a World War Two Nazi German warship is seen in the Danube in Prahovo, Serbia August 18, 2022. (photo credit: Fedja Grulovic/Reuters)
Wreckage of a World War Two Nazi German warship is seen in the Danube in Prahovo, Serbia August 18, 2022.
(photo credit: Fedja Grulovic/Reuters)

As droughts and heatwaves plague the Earth's surface due to the ravages of climate change, bodies of water have evaporated and revealed a hidden history of lost wonders.

Dozens of ancient and lost cities, sunken treasures and grim reminders of the past have been revealed for the first time in years - and in some cases tens, hundreds and even thousands of years.

Here are some of the extraordinary real-life places that were hidden beneath the waters.

 Wreckage of a World War Two Nazi German warship is seen in the Danube in Prahovo, Serbia August 18, 2022. (credit: Fedja Grulovic/Reuters) Wreckage of a World War Two Nazi German warship is seen in the Danube in Prahovo, Serbia August 18, 2022. (credit: Fedja Grulovic/Reuters)
Interesting Italian finds

One such place where waters have dried up was in Italy, where rivers have somewhat dried up and revealed fascinating discoveries.

One such example is in the River Tiber, which runs through the city of Rome. Here, the record low water levels have revealed more of an ancient bridge that once crossed the river.

Known as the Pons Neronianus, this bridge is said to have been built at the behest of Roman Emperor Nero in the middle of the first century CE. 

The existence of the bridge itself wasn't in doubt. In fact, it can be seen whenever the water levels drop enough. But since the levels are so low now, we can see more than usual.

But this isn't the only discovery to happen in Italy.

The droughts and heat waves have also caused another river in the country, the River Po, to see extremely low water levels, resulting in the discovery of another surprising find, albeit one far more recent and far more dangerous: A live 450-kilogram bomb from World War II.

The bomb in question was spotted by fishermen near Mantua. Around 3,000 people living nearby had to be evacuated while the Italian military carried out a controlled explosion to destroy it.

Blast from the past: More World War II explosives found

The bomb in Italy wasn't even the only explosive from the Second World War discovered in Europe's rivers due to low water levels.

Drought and heat waves contributed to the river Danube dropping to some of its lowest water levels in a century, impacting the many countries the river runs through.

One of these countries, Serbia, had an alarming discovery: The hulls of over 20 Nazi German warships sunk in World War II.

Now, the fact that these warships were present here wasn't a surprise, as people have always known about them and the trouble they can cause shipping during low-tide.

But what makes them especially dangerous is the fact that many of these ships still have tons of ammunition and explosives, which are still live and can pose serious danger.

The remains of ships. And a lot of dead people

These droughts and low water levels aren't exclusive to Europe. This has been happening all over the world – including the US.

One such discovery happened in the Missouri River, which is also experiencing low water levels. Here, the low waters uncovered the wreckage of the North Alabama, a steamboat that sunk in 1870 while carrying hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of flour and whiskey, Newsweek reported.

But another far more mysterious shipwreck was found in Lake Mead, which is found in both Nevada and Arizona.

Found by treasure hunter and diver Dallas Rowley and uploaded to the YouTube channel Man + River, the mysterious wooden ship was found recently exposed in Lake Mead still ful of cargo and artifacts such as nail polish, a phone, a flag and plaques.

What makes this so mysterious is that there is no indication of what ship this is, when it sank or why it sank. 

But that isn't the only spooky discovery in Lake Mead – there are also dead bodies.

A number of bodies have been discovered so far, but experts are certain are untold hundreds more waiting to be discovered, Newsweek reported.

The fact that there are so many dead bodies in Lake Mead isn't too surprising. The lake is often listed as one of the deadliest national parks in the US, where over 250 people have died in the last decade, mostly due to drowning.

However, according to Outside magazine, Lake Mead also has one of the highest homicide rates of US national parks.

Indeed, this can be seen in another recent discovery in the lake due to low water levels: A pair of dead bodies trapped in a barrel.

Finding villages, a manmade island and an entire ancient city

Water levels are also low in the Lima River in Spain, which resulted in the uncovering of an entire ancient village. As noted by the BBC, this place, once known as the Roman camp Aquis Querquennis, is normally impossible to spot because of the water, but lower water levels have changed that.

Another lost village was found in Wales. The entirety of what remains of the lost Welsh village of Llanwddyn, having vanished beneath the waters in the 1800s during a construction project, have emerged once more due to drought, CNN reported.

And in Ireland, the droughts revealed something even stranger: An entire manmade island, known as a crannog. 

These ancient dwellings were known to have existed, but this one stood out because it was made of stone, rather than wood and clay, which may indicate it was meant for a person of considerably high status, as referred to by Sean Corey of the Loup Historical Society as "the highest of the highest king at that time," according to the BBC.

The archaeological site of Kemune in the dried-up area of the Mosul reservoir (credit: UNIVERSITIES OF FREIBURG AND TÜBINGEN, KAO)The archaeological site of Kemune in the dried-up area of the Mosul reservoir (credit: UNIVERSITIES OF FREIBURG AND TÜBINGEN, KAO)

But in Iraq, a discovery was made that seemingly blows all of this out of the water, even if that water was already low because of drought: An entire ancient city.

Researchers believe the city could be ancient Zachiku, an important center in the Mittani Empire. The Mittani Empire, which flourished 3,400 years ago around 1550-1350 BCE, was centered in northern Mesopotamia, encompassing the region of modern-day Turkey, Syria and Iraq.

This site was known to archaeologists before, but it can only be studied during droughts due to its location.

The researchers only have a short amount of time to study it before it all gets submerged beneath the water again.

Judith Sudilovsky and Reuters contributed to this report.