Saturday, July 27, 2013


                         The Decalogue Stone, Los Lunas, New Mexico.

Did ancient Israelites, or at least Semites, wander around the American West during pre-Columbian times, and leave an inscription based upon the ten commandments carved into a boulder near Los Lunas, New Mexico? My answer would be a resounding no, but there are those who firmly believe this to be true.

The following quotes are from Wikipedia (with limited editing), and I have kept their underlining and emphasis intact: 

"The Los Lunas Decalogue Stone is a large boulder on the side of Hidden Mountain, near Los Lunas, New Mexico, about 35 miles south of Albuquerque, that bears a very regular inscription carved into a flat panel. The stone is also known as the Los Lunas Mystery Stone or Commandment Rock. The inscription is interpreted to be an abridged version of the Decalogue or Ten Commandments in a form of Paleo-Hebrew. A letter group resembling the tetragrammaton YHWH, or "Yahweh," makes three appearances. The stone is controversial in that some claim the inscription is Pre-Columbian, and therefore proof of early Semitic contact with the Americas."

"The first recorded mention of the stone is in 1933, when the late professor Frank Hibben (1910-2002), an archaeologist from theUniversity of New Mexico, saw it. According to a 1996 interview, Hibben was "convinced the inscription is ancient and thus authentic. He report[ed] that he first saw the text in 1933. At the time it was covered with lichen and patination and was hardly visible. He was taken to the site by a guide who had seen it as a boy, back in the 1880s." However, Hibben's testimony is tainted by charges that in at least two separate incidents, he fabricated some or all of his archaeological data to support his pre-Clovis migration theory. The reported 1880s date of discovery is important to those who believe that the stone is pre-Columbian. However, the Paleo-Hebrew script, which is closely related to the Phoenician script, was well known by at least 1870, thus not precluding the possibility of a modern hoax." 
"Because of the stone's weight of over 80 tons, it was never moved to a museum or laboratory for study and safekeeping. Many visitors have cleaned the stone inscriptions over the years, likely destroying any possibility for scientific analysis of the inscriptions' patina. Nevertheless, comparing it to a modern inscription nearby, geologist George E. Morehouse, a colleague of Barry Fell, estimated that the inscription could be between 500 and 2000 years old and explaining its freshness and lack of patina as being due to frequent scrubbing to make it more visible.

Vandalized Los Lunas Decalogue Stone, April, 2006. Wikipedia.

In April of 2006, the first line of the unprotected inscription was obliterated by vandals. The position of the stone has also shifted, possibly also related to the vandalism. No matter how much on the fringe you consider a subject to be, no one should feel that they have the right to damage and displace the subject of what some people believe to be serious scientific inquiry.

 I have previously admitted that I am not a linguist or epigrapher, so I cannot make judgements based upon personal knowledge of some of the above arguments. I can, however, relate that friends of mine who took seriously some of the diffusionist arguments back in the 1980s and 1990s, and who did have some knowledge of epigraphy, discounted this inscription as a modern creation based upon linguistic arguments. I personally discount it based upon my inability to imagine the lost tribes of Israel wandering about New Mexico (or maybe they had dubbed it New Palestine) during some pre-Columbian period.


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