The Mystery Stone, also known as the Decalogue Stone, is located on a mountain in the remote desert of West-Central New Mexico. The stone face bears an inscription written in what some believe to be an extinct language, alternately identified as a form of Paleo-Hebrew or as Cypriotic Greek.
The stone was first acknowledged in literature in 1933 by famous New Mexico archaeologist Frank Hibben, who wrote of encountering the stone on a guided tour by an individual who claimed to have first discovered the stone in the 1880’s. The inscription’s alleged existence in the late 1800’s would place the inscribing before the modern scientific rediscovery of both Paleo-Hebrew and Cypriotic Greek. However, the inscription may well be Phoenician, a script well known at the time.
Proponents of the inscription being in Paleo-Hebrew claim that it is a record of the Judeo-Christian Ten Commandments, based on a 1949 translation by Harvard scholar Robert Pfeiffer. In 1979, a University of New Mexico epigrapher named Dixie Perkins put forth the theory of the inscription as Cypriotic Greek, used around 500 BC in the Mediterranean region. In Perkins’ translation, the stone reads as a report from an explorer or warrior named Zakyneros, who has become isolated in the wilderness and now struggles to survive.
Many others however, believe the stone to be a hoax perpetrated by Hibben himself, much of whose work has been shown to have been fabricated to show support for the idea of ancient pre-Colombian contact, and even for pre-Clovis peoples in North America. A number of the other people involved in dating and examining the stone also have connections to academically questionable figures such as Barry Feel, another proponent of ancient pre-Columbian contact theories, thus calling much of the examination of the stone into question.
The stone can be accessed via a short hike from the highway. No interpretative materials are featured at the site.
Know Before You Go
Near Los Lunas, New Mexico. Contact New Mexico State Land Office (http://www.nmstatelands.org/Default.aspx?PageID=98)