Last month it fell to its lowest level in one hundred years and revealed etchings from the Stone Age that had been submerged for 3,000 to 7,000 years. There was a brief moment, before the river started to rise again, when photographers and local researchers could photograph the images that were engraved on the rocks.
There are pictures of snakes and faces. They could also discern spirals, geometric shapes and serpentine-like forms. The President of the Brazilian Society of Archaeology speculated that "Maybe it was also done during an exceptional drought like this year or at a time when the river was lower than now."
This is proof to many archaeologists that there had been a significant ancient settlement there. Formerly it had been thought that the area was too miserable to be inhabited. However pottery has also been found which is proof that there had been larger communities. With the introduction of logging, farming and cities all of these artifacts are quickly disappearing.
The drought is a disaster for the fisherman and farmers on the Rio Negro tributary of the Amazon where the etchings were found. More than 60,000 families have been affected. Boats and house boats are beached and river banks have caved in. Other branches of the river have also been affected; stranding villagers who rely on the river for transport by boat and food.
Photo: Danilo Mello
Enormous swathes of garbage have been exposed as the waters dry up.
The river was measured at a depth of 44.7 feet, the lowest since they started a measuring system in 1902.
A Greenpeace representative in the near-by town of Manaus said that "the photographs we are seeing of boats stranded in dry riverbeds are photographs that show the face of climate change, that show the impact climate change could have on the 20 million people who live in the Amazon region. If this situation continues the state of Amazonas will live in a permanent state of emergency. The changes in people's lives would be horrific."